George Julian Dworin lives off-the-grid in a yurt in Silver City, New Mexico. An avid outdoorsman, mountain biker, dog lover, and artist, he was initially drawn to Silver City as the gateway to the 3.3-million-acre Gila National Forest. For over 20 years he visited annually, and became a full-time resident four years ago. He is currently the Director of the Silver City Arts and Cultural District, an organization committed to fostering creative economic development, community partnership and collaboration, historic and cultural preservation, and tourism.
Forever, I have wanted to tell you how I feel about you. Ever since we met decades ago, I have loved you. I remember the drive to our first rendezvous. I crossed the grass-covered plain of the lower desert dotted with blooming yuccas and grazing pronghorns. I climbed into the wild Burro Mountains through woods of juniper and aak, and over the majestic Continental Divide. The air was thinner and the views were magnificent. Twenty more miles of rolling hills and anticipation, and I caught my first glimpse of you.
There you were with a backdrop of rising foothills leading off to the vastness of ponderosa covered mountains - 3 million acres of endless Gila wilderness adventure. I breathed you in. A calm peacefulness filled me. And I entered your historic downtown.
I never imagined it would be like this: my choice of coffee shops, each unique and inviting; art galleries every which way; colorful murals dancing in the light; locally-grown restaurants with sumptuous fare; shops wrapped in architectural wonders of yesteryear; thrift stores, bike shops, an herb store, and a co-op. Was I dreaming?
"Greetings, brother. What can I get you?" the friendly barista chimed.
Here in the remoteness of the wild, wild West, where Geronimo was born, where the Spanish Conquistadors explored, where Billy the Kid and Judge Roy Bean roosted, I ordered a latte.
"A lowlander?" a bearded and rugged patron asked as I took a window seat on a red velveteen couch. He looked every bit a part of history with his denim wear and strong boots - a man shaped by the place. "Mile high, we are," clarifying his question and seeking no answer. "I remember my arrival here two score years ago. Came as an associate professor of math, still an associate professor of math," he said. "I got two pieces of advice for you if you want to enjoy this place," he offered. "One: Slow down. And two: slow down some more." A nod, a smile, and he was gone.
I felt relaxed and welcomed. I sipped my latte and watched the locals greet each other with hugs, news and trail reports. Something was happening to me. I had not been in your arms but an hour, and somehow I was gently overcome by a sense of belonging, of arrival, of enchantment. Heeding the stranger's wisdom, I lingered some more, allowing these new sensations to wash over me, and through me.
In time the light began to change, and a golden hue flooded your downtown. The sound of a street musician resonated and beckoned. I dropped my latte bowl into the busing station bucket, warmly greeted by at least three people along the way.
At the door I squinted into the light as I stepped onto your sidewalk. I paused. Could this be happening so suddenly, so completely? With such ease and comfort?
Yes. It was true, Silver City. I was in love with you.
I set out to find a green chile burrito and a place to camp for the night.