This was originally posted on June 29, 2007.
I’ve always thought that location is very important. If I don’t like where I live and how it affects every day, I will be miserable. Way back when I started blogging (I wrote stupid, boring entries) I was festering in the misery of no longer being happy with where I was and what my life looked like. I spent a year or so, I think, contemplating, studying maps, learning about cities, trying to figure out where to go next. Normally, I don’t spend so much time thinking and planning, but saying “fuck it all” and moving was a big deal and I had a condo to sell and I guess I realized how absolutely important this was.
While Ben and I were deciding where to go, I didn’t know who I would become after I got there, but I did know that where I went would significantly affect who I would become. I mean, I was ready to give up my career and the only state I’d ever really known. I don’t like the fact that the way I’m saying this makes me seem like tofu, something that is bland and takes on the flavor of whatever’s around it. I don’t think it’s quite like that, but maybe it is. Imagine if we moved to Vermont. Maybe I’d spend the winters wrapped in chunky knitted scarves and browsing in bookstores. If we moved to a small town along the Oregon coast, maybe I would’ve become kind of beachy, although we’d only last there a year before moving to Portland. If we moved to Bellingham, Washington, we’d grow herbs in our little kitchen where I’d bake pies, but I’m sure we would’ve ended up in Seattle.
I suppose it’s all kind of random and I don’t really know how or why we ended up in Nederland, Colorado. It all kind of makes sense the way it happened, but to this day when I tell people about how we moved from Chicago to Nederland, the universal reaction is WTF. The first time we ever went to Nederland, we got good coffee at a little coffee shop set up in a train car and sat outside under the sun and watched people in the kind of pants you’d wear to go hiking if you know what you’re doing wander around with their large, friendly dogs. Nederland was a perfect little cocoon for a year, but of course we ended up in the city.
The other day I got out my copy of On the Road so I could read the parts about Denver. I think location is important, so when I read the book, I don’t care so much about Dean or Chad King or Carlo Marx or Sal. The only character that matters is Denver itself. Denver is something you think about while you’re speeding across Nebraska or sleeping on the grass in Longmont. It’s hot and there are mountains nearby and there’s a buzz of excitement that starts at Colfax and radiates through the whole city.
Maybe we know more about ourselves than we realize. Did you know, four years ago, that I would be in love with beer and spending as much free time as possible at live sporting events? Did you know that Ben and I would have a house near downtown, a vegetable garden, and a dog, and that I’d have a job I really like and my shit pretty much together? Could you imagine me being anything other than this?
The thing is, if we’d moved anywhere else in the world, I don’t know if any of these things would’ve happened. If we lived in Vermont, I guess I’d get to watch the Frost Heaves play hoops, but I wouldn’t know about Jose Mesa and I wouldn’t be well-versed in the fine art of heckling at baseball games. And you know what else? Maybe even our weaknesses are good things. If I weren’t afraid of flying, we might not have ended up here — I remember looking at maps and thinking about how much it would suck to drive from Washington state to Illinois to visit family, ever, but driving from Colorado would be manageable. Maybe I don’t need to hate the fact that I have issues. My issues are the things that keep me grounded, and without them I’d just be out there doing totally crazy shit.
It’s hot here, and there’s no water, but even better, there are mountains that let you get out of the hot, stifling air. On Sunday, we went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was so hot even in the mountains it was 87 degrees when we left the car at the trailhead. We picked out a trail that led to a lake and went up 2,000 feet and 4.5 miles one way even though we didn’t have enough water. The lake at the end of the trail was, and I’m not kidding, the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, clean water surrounded by a beach surrounded by a pine forest surrounded by mountains, like somebody took all the best parts of nature and put them right there in one place. I took off my shoes and walked barefoot on the sand and in the water and right then, even though I was thirsty and even though my legs were tired and even though I knew we had another two-hour hike to get back down the mountain, everything was absolutely perfect.
I don’t know that other people think about place the same way I do. Some of the most intimate relationships I have are those with the places where I live, and maybe that’s why I love it here so much. Denver isn’t showy and doesn’t say much, but every day it presents me with the small things you put together to make happiness. I really love it here, and could you imagine if I didn’t know about Jose Mesa?
This is why I don’t know what we’re doing with this long (four days for us!1) weekend. I’m a little angsty about not knowing what to do this weekend, to tell you the truth.
Before we even thought about having a kid, Ben and I had our little Memorial Day tradition. We’d go up to Boulder, hang out at the Boulder Creek Festival, get a beer or two, and then watch the rubber duck race. Here’s the thing. I’m ridiculous about rubber duck races. I think rubber duck races are, like, the greatest thing in the entire world and yes, I know how dorky that is. What can I say. I’m a big fat rubber-duck-race-lovin’ dork. That’s just how I roll or, um, float down the creek. Whatever.
Last year, the first year we had a child to include in our Memorial Day tradition, we drove up to Boulder, found a place to park in our usual area, got the jogging stroller out of the trunk, inserted Soren and his paraphernalia in the jogging stroller, and walked toward the festivities. On the way, we were run the fuck off the sidewalk by some bitch with her jogging stroller.
(This should be a parenthetical but it also probably deserves its own paragraph, so forgive me for the prolonged aside. I have to take this opportunity to tell you that when we use our jogging stroller2 while we’re not jogging, we go out of our way to not be assholes about it. Like, we’re not those people (if they still exist) crowding up Starbucks (we brew our own coffee) with our huge-ass jogging strollers. If we’re on a sidewalk and someone else is on the sidewalk walking in the opposite direction, as long as there is not delicate vegetation to worry about, I will roll the stroller a bit off the sidewalk so as not to obstruct the path of the oncoming pedestrian. That’s just normal, human behavior, as far as I’m concerned. You don’t make other people alter their trajectory because you’re operating a big thing, you know?)
That kind of stuck in my craw, or whatever you say, because it was another example of the me-first-screw-everyone-else mentality I have encountered many, many times in Boulder.3 I understand that admitting my problems with Boulder is going to make me even less popular than I already am among my statespeople, if that’s possible, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take because if my blog isn’t a safe space4 for me to admit that I don’t really care for Boulder, well, there is no safe space5 for me to admit that I don’t really care for Boulder.
We soldiered on, as dedicated beer drinkers are wont to do. We headed over to the fest area, got a beer, and eventually snagged a bench that wasn’t dripping with [insert stereotypical Boulder people here]. After a while, we made our way to our usual spot by the library. We snagged some real estate where we could see the creek without danger of dropping the baby into the creek. As race time approached, assholes in their running shorts squeezed in front of us and completely blocked our view of anything but their fucking legs.
Listen. I know we’re not entitled to an unobstructed view of the rubber duck race. But it just kind of sucked. I wasn’t about to take the baby and mountain goat over the rocks in front of running shorts to get a better view, so we were fucked. After that picture was taken, more and more and more running shorts crammed in front of us. Eventually it became clear that our options were to: (1) watch the backs of legs for half an hour; or (2) go home. We went home. So we pretty much drove to Boulder6 to have a beer, use a porta potty (x5 if you’re me and you have a beer; this is why I wear skirts), and then go home, and that was supposed to be the highlight of our weekend.
The one good thing about Boulder, while I’m at it, is that it makes me really happy to come home to the hood in Denver. All due respect to people who like Boulder, it has no grit. I need a city with some grit.
I’ll let you know about our gritty Memorial Day weekend plans as soon as we figure out what they are. Maybe we’ll race some rubber ducks in the bathtub.
1. Soren’s daycare is closed tomorrow because it’s “transition” day when the teachers prepare to move kids to their new classrooms for the new school year (they had the parents vote on whether it was okay to close a day for this so the teachers didn’t have to work late). Ben and I both took the day off.
2. Ben jogs with the stroller. I don’t because jogging with a stroller makes me feel like I felt when watching the last episode of The First 48, where some fucking asshole 20-year-old killed a mom and her 2-year-old child and then, when shown a picture of the baby with his face blown off, did this fucking exaggerated-ass yawn and honestly, I’m opposed to the death penalty but I hope somebody kills that guy. Also, for the record, we do not have one of those BOB strollers that label you as a fuckhead willing to overpay for shit just because it’s popular.
3. I was an unsuspecting newcomer to the state the time the guy working the deli at the Boulder Whole Foods said to me, in the kind of accusatory voice that would be appropriate only to say “Are you cheating on me?!” when you come home early and find your wife in bed with another man, “Is that real fur?” in reference to my Victoria’s Secret fake-ass fur vest.
4. People who look for a “safe space” on the internet are assholes, so I’m being facetious.
6. Denver has spoiled me. It gets my goat, so to speak, if I have to be in a car for more than 5 minutes, ever.
I’m not sure why I’m excited about the Winter X Games this weekend, but I am. Maybe it’s because my people are from the north and I have an affinity for all things winter, and because although I don’t ski, I love finding or inventing reasons to visit the mountains.
That said, I’m not actually going to the games. Although Aspen is absolutely gorgeous, it’s not my favorite place in the world. This is quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I’ll ever say here, but you can’t take a step in Aspen without bumping into a woman with blonde highlights, silly boots, and a Louis Vuitton handbag. (This is ridiculous for me to say because it’s like I’m complaining, but I’m a woman with blonde highlights, ridiculous boots, and a Louis Vuitton handbag, so I’m kind of making fun of myself while also experiencing a particular type of existential angst reserved for women with fancy handbags who still feel like they “keep it real” and aren’t like the people in Aspen who bump into you at the diner and don’t say “excuse me.”) In the winter, Aspen is crowded and everything is way too expensive. Aside from breakfast, I haven’t been impressed by Aspen food, which isn’t very vegetarian friendly.
So let’s talk about what’s good about Aspen, for those of you heading out there. The best place for aprés game drinks and lounging is 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel. Hotel rooms here (if you’re lucky enough to get a room on such a hot weekend) come with awesome animal-print robes, and believe me, you’ll be loving life if you wear one of those out to the bar and the heated pool and hot tub just outside the doors. Now that I think about it, this hotel rocks in general, with its through-the-looking-glass decor and in-room humidifiers and iHomes. J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome is another good place to get a drink. Poppycocks is awesome for breakfast (although their website doesn’t seem to be working — hopefully they’re still open).
Although I won’t be there, it won’t be too bad to watch the games in HD from my comfortable couch in the nice warm house with plenty of beer in the fridge. I’ll update with my thoughts, which I’m sure will read like a “Winter X Games for dummies” because I don’t know anything about this stuff.