Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

In 2005, Derek graduated from high school and headed to the Army and I graduated from college with a long-awaited bachelor’s degree in Economics. While I had been accepted to Cornell University with a $20,000 fellowship and we tried every which way to make living in Ithaca work for our large family, the overwhelming cost and the draw to be out West again and near my ill mother was too much. I declined Cornell in favor for my hometown university’s offer and we set out for Reno, Nevada.

Reno is a great place to gamble, a great place to visit…but for us, with a special-needs child, not a great place to raise a family. The school district was difficult at best and monstrous at times in their willingness to provide even the most basic services to Kyle. Reno may have been my hometown, but it would never be home to my family.

One of the best things to come out of my short time at UNR, however, was the connection I made with a fellow TA, James. We were on the same teaching team and spent a lot of time together. Away from school, to clear our minds of students, papers, and studies, we would all meet up at the Pub n Sub to share beer and pizza each week. That’s where Dave met James. Dave and James hit it off – they were both from New York and they both really did not like living in Reno.

Over time, we got to know James and continued to remain connected to him after we left Reno six months after arriving. James came to visit us in Boise, and after we moved to New York, we stayed in close touch, following along on his adventures in finishing his doctoral degree (in Latin American History) and as he traveled through Mexico completing research.

He lives in Trinidad, Colorado, now, and the opportunity was perfect for us to connect. He met us in Pueblo (our alternative to the burning Colorado Springs where we intended to go – our hearts are with all the people there) and we spent an evening together. THIS is what this trip is all about – reconnecting with the people who have had an impact on our lives, made a difference in who we are, and who have become, in a real sense, a part of our family.

It was pretty amazing – and now I really feel like the trip has started.

P.S. Kansas is a really boring state to drive through. SO glad to be in Colorado.