Den’venture – Epilogue

But Seriously..

It wasn’t all bad.

Recap:

1. I ate a Denver Omlette. (1.5. With Colorado Green Chili on it.)

2. I went to Red Rocks Amphitheater

3 (?). I didn’t eat Rocky Mountain Oysters, but I did eat Oysters in the Rocky Mountains.

4. I went to Union Station.

5. I drank (alot of) locally brewed beer.

6. I ate Colorado beef.

7. I went to the Tattered Cover book store (sort of..)

8. Selfie at “The Best View of Denver” spot. (Which was a lie…)

9. 5280 miles above sea-level. I found survival oxygen (multiple flavors).

10. I survived the Denver Airport.

Den’venture – End

Parting Shots

The gamble of staying in a hotel… At 3 in the morning, the high volume, verbal altercation of two lovers. Woman screaming at man, man yelling at woman. They are clearly having their spat right outside my ear. I’m fairly certain I hear someone telling someone that they need to leave. I am hopeful that it is a hotel staff member and then there is quiet. I am still awake an hour later when there is a knock at the door. Not our door. The door next down, and the calm voice of a man asking if he can please come back in. He asks twice before the door is finally opened, and there is quiet again.

On the fear of something going wrong, or maybe a lack of sleep, we arrived at the airport much earlier than we had planned. And while the Denver airport was unfamiliar to all of us, the sight of a line of people spanning one check-in counter, all the way to the extreme farthest check-in counter, seemed a little peculiar. We were directed past all the line of people and quickly checked ourselves in and further directed upstairs to go through security. We wiped our brows and headed up stairs, away from the line of people. As we rounded the corner and found ourselves able to look over the balcony to the security check gates our heads spun. The room was jammed! We followed the signs for security and as they took us back downstairs, we slowly began to understand that we were to join the ungodly long line. We followed it along, rounding one corner and walking from one check-in counter, all the way to the extreme farthest check-in counter, and then around that corner. We eventually reached the end, and packed in. Along the way the line was forced into 3 separate S loopies. The kind of bits in a line that make you walk back and forth 3-4 times, making eye contact with the same people 3-4 times, before allowing you to continue on.

And to be honest, getting through security wasn’t the time consuming process, it was getting to security.

Once through, we ran downstairs and hopped the tram to the C gates, our wild, yet successful guess as to our departure gate. We wiped the sweat from our brows and took a breath. First order of business, Mom needed coffee.

First coffee shop, another ungodly, PTSD inducing line. Second coffee shop, a line, but a manageable line, to reach the front to discover they don’t have her coffee. Third coffee shop, smooth sailing, until we finally sit, remove our masks, take sips of our coffees, and discover they had not made the coffee she ordered.

By this time Dad was hungry and feeling dubious of most of the restaurants we had passed for either being take-out only, or risking a line longer than we want to deal with. He managed to find a place close to coffee shop three, he got a table, and we seemed to be in business. This is, of course, before coffee shop three has bungled Mom’s coffee order. While Dad waited for us, Mom noticed the restaurant swivel the board out front and realized that as it had just struck 10:30, the restaurant had officially stopped serving breakfast.

We ate there anyway.

(Side bungle): While running around, I happened to notice the airport’s version of Denver’s famous bookstore the Tattered Cover Bookstore. The day before we had passed the original location and had missed going in and perusing by some 5 minutes. I found this to be my chance. Thinking better of buying a book and having to haul it all the way home, I asked if I could have a bookmark. Some proof and memorabilia that I had been. The cashiers were happy to give me one. I thanked them and ran out to catch up with Mom and Dad. When I pulled it out to show Mom, I looked it over twice before fully coming to the realization that it was complete advertisement and that nowhere on either side of the bookmark did it even say the name of the bookstore..

The plane ride was a short eternity. In front of us sat three, clearly drunk girls who yelled jovial stories and cackled with laughter. Mom yelled, “SHHHH!!” I yelled, “can you be a little more quiet please!” All to no avail. They were literally too loud to hear me yelling at them right between the seats. Dad said, “don’t you have your headphones?” …not the point, Dad…

As we began our descent, as expected, all the ticking time bomb kiddies began to yowl. Particularly some couple seats behind us. And I do feel bad, I can actually remember when I was that kid and how much the pressure hurt my ears. This poor man, who boarded the plane with a double wide stroller of two tots, and no partner. One child yowled and yowled and continually cried, “I want my mommy!”

Seattle was cold, wet, familiar. It took a little, but we eventually got our bags back. A smidge longer than 20 minutes and I made Mom go and demand our free miles for exceeding their 20 minute promise. She asked politely, and we got our vouchers. We bustled to the shuttle pick-up/drop-off zone and set about hailing the shuttle to get to our car.

4 tries and 3 different phones to confirm that the number Dad had was not working. 2 phones attempting to call the hotel that employs the shuttle, and currently housed our car. 1 answered phone at the hotel to tell us that their shuttle wasn’t running until 4. 1 check of the watch to let us know that it was 3. We would not be getting shuttle service to our car.

We bustled over to the taxi pick-up/drop-off zone. Eye contact and a nod, and a taxi driver began loading our bags into his trunk. As he closed the trunk he asked where we were headed. Dad told him. He gave Dad a slightly exasperated look and asked why we weren’t just getting the free shuttle.

When we finally got to our car it was pouring down with rain. We began off, and in typical Dad fashion, he turned. Of course, once committed, it is realized that it is the wrong way. Google assisted in getting us back on track, and we finally really were on our way.

And really, for as shit as it all was, for waking up and heading out at 8:30, and not getting home until 6:00, it could always have been worse. I routinely try to remind myself that I really could have something to complain about. And Dad falls back into the familiarity of driving his own car. He and Mom begin speaking softly in the front seats. And I stare out over the city. A city I understand without having to squint or try to focus. Its just there. It makes sense. I am back down on the ground, I can breathe, this is rain, but up there, straight ahead, blue skies and home.

And, of course, doughnuts while we wait for the ferry.

Den’venture – Day 4

More Than Meets the Eye

Having been in Denver for 4 days now, we decided to actually go into town and see the city. Being a Sunday and a home game day, the city was filled with the bright orange colours of the Denver Broncos. Short of dressing dogs and babies up as pumpkins, I am not sure I have seen so many people so proudly wearing such a loud shade of orange.

Once outside the three story open air mall, full of the typical mall type stores, we walked a bit of the main downtown street. Wide enough for foot traffic on either side, two public transport lanes, and a strip in between for whatever manages to take up residence there. Various food carts, simple tables and chairs, one block boasted a mini botanical garden. Along the way, restaurants and shops you’d expect to find on a downtown street. Busy enough to stay in business, but not eye catching enough to snare a tourist’s attention or money. At each cross street the waft of warm garbage and dirty socks. Here and there, tall important buildings covered in glass windows, blasting sunlight down to illuminate even the darkest corners.

We reached the end of the road and came to the fabled Millennium Bridge. It was wide and passed over the rail tracks, and mother stubbed her toe marveling the sights. And then we were across it. I turned back, not sure if I had missed something or not. No, a short 50 paces or so and one is across. But across is like a whole different place.

Descend the steps from the bridge and the surrounding buildings are close enough to provide enough shade to breathe. While reaching the cross street still provides the warm garbage and dirty sock stink, across that cross street is all green. A vast park of green grass. Not recently mowed, but lush despite the arid heat. Curving sidewalk embraces the soft domes and flats of grass, and eventually lead to another bridge. This one narrow and long, wooden slats that thump with each foot step, the whole structure seeming to bob and sway a little the further across you go. Below a river, rushing in some areas, gurgling in others, ducks paddling around among the algae.

Across that and you must walk left, or right. This street is quieter, but still full of life. Restaurants with outdoor seating spilling into the street, tent overhead and generous misting machines spraying customers like vegetables in a super market. We find a brewery and sit for a beer. And on the way back we get icecream.

30 mile drive to reach our dinner reservations. No longer in Denver, we found ourselves in Boulder. A smaller, cute, but clearly college town. The sprawling brick university buildings settled in the heart of the town. We went to the main street, an older part of the town. The street was not so much a street, as a walkway down along the shops. Giant fountain areas, sculptures, casual seating here and there, large areas for street performers. While all the signs stated no skateboards, no bikes, no smoking, no dogs, all the shops and seating areas had large bowls of water for dogs. Various random shops catering to, I’m not sure whom. And restaurants, all held up by the hustle and bustle of baby faced college kids. Never once was I carded.

We drove home in the dark. It wasn’t quiet, but seeing a city by its lights alone, is like tasting a soup without all the chunky bits in it. You simply get the deep flavor of what the soup actually is. The city at night, is vast and small all at once. It is large stadiums, and small apartment buildings. It is lights at the very top of a tower building, and lights along the rail of an apartment balcony. It is humble restaurants, and big chain stores. It is the familiar, and it is the unique. It was something a little bit different, but not to wild, and not to crazy.

Den’venture – Day 3

Brick Castles, Deep Woods, and Wood Fired Pizzas

Somewhere beyond the city, past the towering buildings and rushing traffic. Somewhere within the hills and down the winding roads. Somewhere past the fluffy trees, and dark, dangling berries. Somewhere through the woods, and just across the creek. There was a castle. We could only just see it through the trees, over the ogre bridge. The water wheel was spinning, and the birds were singing. We could have been spying on some strange fairy tale.

That was where my brother was going to get married.

This was not the proper way to reach the castle. This was the trouble making, rogue route. This was creeping up on the back side and catching young ladies playing a delicate game of badminton, or croquet route. This was the sneak your boyfriend in the back way route. No ogres guarded this bridge.

There were also a lot of dark holes in big walls. The kinds of holes that you can’t see in without the aid of a flashlight. The kinds of holes that one laughs and yells into during the day, and desperately avoids during the night. The kinds of holes that seem darker once you realize you are in a cellphone dead zone, and you’re on a trail called Lair o’ the Bear. What bears might be out to get you if you’re not paying enough attention?

We saw no bears.

Having sufficiently covered ourselves in dust and depleted ourselves of water, we drove back out of the hills and along the winding roads. We drove into the rushing traffic, towards the towering buildings. We found ourselves in a small town, where we ordered beer, wings, and wood fired pizza.

Den’venture – Day 2

Those Red Red Rocks

Today, our mission was to get to the Red Rocks. A renown place for its hosting of concert performances by famous musicians dating back to… I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention in the “hall of fame.” The day started off decent enough. Woke up, took a shower, the clouds had lifted and I could see, well, not mountains per se, but there were certainly hills out there, and we were off to see some of what Colorado has to offer. First stop, hot coffee, to wake up the mind and the bones.

Second stop, into the next coffee shop, as one had dumped their entire coffee over in the car just as we were hitting the open road.

We reached the small town of Morrison, with its two lane road and boasting of its exciting Ciderfest. Tomorrow… Once through the town we began to see red rocks. Google navigator indicated that we were close. Signs teased that if we took this turn we would reach our destination.

There was a lot of barking and breaking and missed turns, but eventually we parked.

The rocks were indeed red, jutting out of the earth at extreme angles like wrecked ships on the coastline. At a point you think, you’re looking at rocks… And then you think, goddam that Mother Nature, this is breathtaking. And I don’t mean the walking uphill part, though there was a lot of that.

More extraordinary than the mind boggling feat of Mother Nature, was the famous Amphitheater. Set into one of the giant hills. Bleacher seats reaching so high, as to emulate a basketball court. Stairs on either side, quite possibly the inspiration for the song Stairway to Heaven. It felt like the most epic conquest once reaching the top. And you turn and can see the entire world over the top of the stage. City, lake, hills, and beyond. And then you see the half a dozen folks utilizing the death trap bleachers as their playground for some Strong Man training session. We silently thanked the MC, or whoever was speaking into the mic, for kicking everyone out of the seating area as they were setting up for a show. We no longer had to feel both awestruck, and like a pile of shit, for sitting on our asses while these athletic miracles of men (and women) ran up and down these steps like a puppy with a new toy. We headed down the stairs and I told one Strong Man trainee to keep up the good work as we passed.

To fully embrace Rome, we decided to walk a short loop. It was lovely, and hot, and the red sand got in my shoes, and some of us thought we were going to die. Not really, but it is always best to plan your rigorous outdoor activities at exactly the heat of the day. My shirt was disgusting, it was actually disgusting. And it was white.

But, we saw the giant red rock named Froggy. Which quite looked like it had little toadstools on it. We saw a Donkey Deer, which looked like a regular deer, save for its jumbo sized ears. And we logged a lot of steps, and a lot of pictures.

And good exercise deserves good food. We met brother and fiancé at a little seafood restaurant near where they live. Fiancé knew all the people, and we were pretty hooked up. Lots of oysters, as it was an Oyster House.

I finally had a Negroni, which, *shrugs* not my tops, but if its good enough for Tony, its good enough for me. Although, next drink, I just went with a straight Gin and Tonic. And capped it all off with Budino and Peach and Blueberry Crisp.

Or rather, I thought we had capped it off.

Apparently the real cap was my brother and I going home with 3+ mosquito bites each. Really Denver?

Den’venture – Day 1

And we Danced atop the Clouds

If there is one thing I have come to realize, it is that Covid has caused people to forget how to be Human. It is almost as if being told to keep our distance from others, forced to hide our one form of non-verbal emotions, scared to even breathe around other people for so long, has caused us to forget how to evwn be around other people.

At the beginning of the movie Love Actually, the viewer is bombarded with images of picturesque airport scenes. Scenes of reunited lovers, of grandchildren seeing grandparents, old friends coming together… Everything an aiport isn’t. Even more so now. It feels as though people don’t even see other people. Lines exist just to patronize impatient caffeine cravers. 6 ft apart shortens to be however long a phone charger chord is. Masks are suggestions, simple barriers between hand and sustenance…

We arrived in Denver and the first thing I noticed, was that there were no mountains. Where the Eff were these supposed beautiful mountains? I don’t actually know what I had been expecting. Green trees? Snow capped mountains? Hip open-minded city dwellers?

Fields. Clouds. Cars that relied on other people’s e.s.p. to know they wanted to switch lanes.

A dubious first start. A little unimpressed…

We met with my brother, proud to show us his new home. We went for a short walk about the neighborhood. So many dogs. Bicyclists who ride at the speed of sound, and somehow just hope you have e.s.p. enough to jump out of their way as they pass. And crickets. Unseen, but by the sounds of them, they are the size of large squirrels.

The evening was topped with a much needed beer at the old English style tavern Bull and Bush (it is as inappropriate as only the English can be.) Dinner of large slabs of meat, washed down by locally brewed beer, some big golf trophy ceremony in the background, hosted by Rob Riggle (shrugs), and a toast to we know not what, but we were all together to have it.

Den’venture Prefunk

Dog tails, Cocktails, and Thai Food

Really, the adventure didn’t get started until practically tomorrow.

A quick trip to the ferry to get to Seattle, dad opted for a snack of French Assassin Fries. Leery, we were fortunate that the icecream machine was broken, barring mom from getting a sundae, and instead forcing her to get a throat soothing milkshake. And while the fries were screaming-napalm-hot-out-of-the-basket, nobody died.

We reached Seattle sometime after work, but anymore, when isn’t it busy on the streets. We had dinner at a new Thai place down the street from Aunty’s. As it is a vacation, I got the Ro’se cocktail. Some fancy drink of gin and rose syrup and something else, with a healthy sprinkling of rose petals atop. It actually tasted quite nice. A bit like a lovely, earthy lemonade.

It was dark by the time we drove to the hotel. Downtown Seattle. Not the destination, just the beginning. But I forget how bright big cities are. The bright headlights on the freeways, the ever illuminated sky high buildings, the flashing lights of signs advertising who knows what, the Franz bread sign lit like a sexy, Vegas attraction. I forget people live like this.

I remember a cemetery near my childhood home. A small thing, just right off the street. It somehow reminded me of one of the cemeteries in the original Legend of Zelda game. Out in front was a large torch. I always remember being flabbergasted that it was always lit. While, now I understand the symbolism of the eternal flame, I couldn’t imagine a light that never goes out. What a small town girl mentality. In the real world there are lights that are so bright they could snuff a candle out.

Outside, the silence is broken by the rushing sound of sleepless traffic. The big city river that never stops flowing. Over head, the occasional rumble of an airplane passing over. Noise. Lights, and noise… But, it is a reminder, that outside those curtains, the world is still alive.

4th Period – Journal Entry #6

There is a place I go when I need a break from life. A place that sits on the outside of Reality, conveniently hidden just behind my imagination. It is a place where music is played every day. The type of place where you find so many other people just like yourself. A pace where you fit in rather than sit out. This is the pace I go to when I need to escape. The doorway appears very rarely. This trip is what keeps me in childhood. And this trip had to end soon. This was my last. Ever.

Of course, I had to wake up early. It always happens that way. The excitement builds in you until you can not do anything but smile. And yet that smile is more genuine and bright than even the sun itself. Of course, it always happens that way.

Then there is the journey. I suppose the journey out of reality must always be a long one. There should be nothing of reality remaining within your heart. And I suspect each person’s journey is a different length. Mine, 10 hours. 10 lovely hours flying across the surface of the seemingly endless sea. The end of the journey will come into sight only when you wish it to.

And once there, all the faces you know so well, yet never see, will greet you with arms to embrace you. The music will be audible nearly 10 miles before land even comes into view. Some 10 thousand fingers and one thousand lungs shall be the ingredients for the scrumptious sweet of sound to be eaten only by ears alone. Fingers and lungs from the faces of those you know.

While indulging in the delectables of sight and sound a bond forms between the hearts of every one like bone and flesh bond together. And you know that it would be always much easier to stay and keep them than to break the bonds and bleed. You know that it’ll happen though.

And just when everything is good and wonderful and the curiosity towards the empty hole in your mind that was reality is no longer there… you find before your feet the edge of the ramp to the boat. in a world where we face only forwards… you know that the time has come.

You begin your journey back and it seems as though the journey back is always shorter than the one away. In a mere blink of the eye you see land again. The land that is reality. And everything that once made you smile begins to fade from mind like mist in the sunlight. It becomes like the memory of a glorious dream soon vanishing. And as you open your eyes everything is still moving forwards as usual.

This trip had to end soon. This was my last. Ever

4th Period – Journal Entry #1

I once asked my parents how it was that they happened to meet and fall in love. At the time, it was just getting dark out and we had just finished dinner. I think my mom was just about to do the dishes, but jumped on the opportunity to put it off. My parents exchanged looks and I could almost feel it in the air that we were being taken back in time.

“It started,” my mother began, “with your geeky father.”

This of course was the first time I had ever heard that my calm and cool dad used to be a geek.

“We were both living in a small town and I appeared to be some kind of an accident magnet for your mother,” my dad continued.

“Thankfully we grew out of that stage. We met when your mother ran me over with her car,” they exchanged smiles as if it were a fond memory.

“There was no serious damage done. The serious damage happened the second time.”

The story continued. Apparently after the first accident with the car, they kept meeting my accident. They would meet in the store and my mom would run him over with shopping carts, or cause end cases to fall on him. It was almost like clockwork, the moment he saw her something would go wrong.

It got to the point where my dad never went shopping anymore. He almost never went out. Things were fine for a while. He began getting used to not having an injury when he went to bed at night. And then, just as life was getting back to normal, he realized that he had begun to miss her. The whole time my dad was taking the break from my mom, she thought that maybe he had gone on some chess club trip or something.

So my dad, the dog, decided that he would ask her out.

Again my parents threw that “fond memory” smile at each other. When no one answered as to how it happened, I asked.

It turned out there was another thing my mom always did when she saw my dad. They have the exact same taste and so when my dad went to the store to get something, my mom would grab the last one (and knock something over on him by accident.)

So my dad devised a plan. He went and found an apology card and wrote a message on it. Just as he had suspected, my mom came for the card. When she opened it she found my dad’s message:

I’m flattered you were buying me an apology card, but how about you apologize in person over dinner with me.

Geeky Guy you keep running over

Of course my mom said “yes.”

The night of their first date, my dad said he was really nervous. He decided to walk to the restaurant. Little did he know what a bad mistake that was. Somehow my mother managed to run him over again. This time, he broke his leg. She felt so bad that she went to the hospital to see him every day til he got better. I think, sometime while my dad was in the hospital things began to change. They began growing out of their accident prone stage, and my mother never caused serious damage to my dad again (except the time she broke his nose, by accident.)

That was how we fell in love.”

4th Period – Journal Entry #2

This song. I don’t listen to it very often. Actually, I rarely listen to it at all. Usually just by mistake. I’ll pull out an old CD that I made years ago. Old CDs are the best way to remember things. They really take you back. Force you into a time you’ve already lived before. A free ticket back into the past.

Anyway, I’m sitting in my room and listening to this CD and enjoying it til this song came on and my emotions did a complete flip. This song, once beautiful, now something that almost burns my ears. Tempted to skip over it… my fingers won’t move.

This song is about a boy who nobody likes. The sort of boy who sits in the back of the room unnoticed, and stays home from school dances. At first, I suppose the song mostly appealed to me because of the music. You hear the words and recognize that they are sad, but for the most part they don’t really touch you emotionally, until you meet that kid.

I had never really liked seeing kids sitting by themselves. He was. So I changed that by sitting with him. I must have figured something would change, because when I saw him alone again the next day I was surprised. After that, I made a note of saying “hi” to him and sitting with him each day.

The thing most kids don’t realize is that even the quiet, shy kids are interesting too. He loved to read books, that’s probably why he was so quiet. It was his own personal escape from reality. What he loved most were Star Wars books, and Lord of the Rings books, and any sort of story that was as far from modern as possible. He love Star Wars best though. He often drew his own deep space scenarios involving Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and all the characters. He was a fantastic artist too. He was in a couple art classes. He always finished the assignments early so he would have time to draw his own pictures with the art supplies provided. He never turned in anything other than what was assigned though. And he only did moderate work on what was assigned. He did it so the teachers wouldn’t recognize him as anything special. I told him it was wrong.

He had a funny walk too. He said it was because he broke his leg when he was young. At first I thought he was walking that way because his feet were wet and he was walking on linoleum floors and didn’t want to fall. But I learned that wasn’t the case.

I never made fun of him like the other kids did. I think after spending so much time with him I must have fallen in love in my own way. On Valentine’s day he drew me a beautiful picture of a young rose. Life got to the point where I could hardly imagine life without him sitting in his corner in the hall. But that is exactly what happened. One day he wasn’t there and I was the one left alone. He wasn’t there the next day, or the one after that, or any day for the rest of the year. After I had taken time to think about it, I know what had happened. I, alone, wasn’t enough to pull him out of the hole he had fallen into. I had really tried though.

And so this song I once loved, now feels like knives to my soul. That is why I rarely to never listen to this song anymore.

4th Period – Journal Entry #11

8 21, 2084

Our maid found my other notes and threw them away. That’s the problem with them, they just throw everything and anything away. It took me a really long time to find any more paper. I suppose its strange to be doing this though. After all, now a days no one ‘writes’ anymore. Not by hand at least. Now the recipe for a good story is a computer and microphone. That’s how I should really be doing this. Good old fashioned auto-speak diaries. Computers record everything you say and puts it into the vast memory of the computer. That’s how all of the great contemporary classics were produced. I feel as though I have a lot of thoughts to be recorded though. Thoughts I don’t want the Network to monitor.

Anyway. The other day our maid died. She actually died. Just on her own. I came out into the living room to tell her to clean my room next, and there she was, just lying there on the floor. I pushed the emergency panic button and a team of roboticians came in. We’ve only had to call them over one other time. Our last maid was acting really weird. She kept throwing things on the floor. The roboticians rewired her, but it was no use. This time, our robot maid just died.

20 years ago all the robots were updated to look just like humans. To help them fit in better. The only way to tell the difference between robots and humans was to somehow get inside them. When I walked into the living room and saw her, I nearly screamed. I realized in that moment, that for the first time in my life, I’d have to clean my room myself.

9 3, 2084

Our NewsClip of the day was filled with reports of robots acting out. Lately they’ve all been acting weird. It’s so hard to find good work these days. If our robots stop doing the work we make them to do then we, the people are going to have to do it. The roboticians have been working overtime. They’re thinking of scrapping all the old model robots and starting over. As if it’s not stressful enough having our teleporter break, now all the robots are malfunctioning. My grandma once told me that way back in the olden days, people walked everywhere. “Cars” were only used to transport someone long distances. Like between housing units. I can hardly imagine. Now, people just teleport everywhere they want to go. Although we all know it’s because the cars of the olden days ran on a strange kind of fuel that was eating away at our ozone. So now, we don’t use “cars.” Although, it’s not like anyone would want to walk anywhere anyway, teleporting is just easier. Each building is about two miles from the next. My grandma said it was a scheme. The Network says they did it for the people. “It’s all for the best.” My grandma says they’re trying to make us all “lazy.” I still don’t know what that word means.

9 10, 2084

I remember one time I was playing my daily game of virtual chess with some kid in the Game Center. There was something about the kid that made me a bit uncomfortable. I think most of the kids my age felt it. Kids. My grandma told me that the Network controls us through the Youth of the Nation. I think I finally understands what she meant by that.

Our NewsClip today was one story over and over and over. And as if it weren’t strange enough in the first place that the kid was out walking around instead of teleporting, he was being followed by a couple of kids my age. I had overheard them once talking about how they believed he was really a robot. I never thought they’d take action on it. The kids like trying to impress the Network. We all know the only way to discover a robot is by getting inside them. These kids took the kid to the top of an abandoned building and began slicing him up. They must have known there was a camera up there, but that’s how kids are these days. They try hard to show everyone that they are following America’s Standards to their fullest, and that our nation is heading in the right direction.

I’m against the idea of robots thinking for themselves as much as the next person, but what these kids did was wrong in the eyes of everyone. And they played the surveillance video of it over and over on the NewsClip. It was horrible. I’m sorry, I can’t write more about it right now. I think I need to take a walk.

Each Night I think I melt, absorbed and assimilated into the fibers of my sheets. Then sail away, like captain and ship, into the land of dreams. Where I run, and sing, and mostly cry. And when the morning comes, must tear my self from that warm embrace, painfully form my body anew, and face the Day..

Taking a Break – Day 3

Fur Sister

I sometimes look at my fur sister and wonder what she would be like if she were human. She would be slight of build, but taller than me. (It isn’t hard for anyone to be taller than me.) She would have long, wavy copper coloured hair. It would be blond on some areas, and deep red in others. She would have long copper coloured eye lashes, with dark makeup around the rims, like mine. She would be a head turner. She is. Everyone always commenting on how beautiful she is, and how wonderful her smile is.

She would be incredibly lazy. She would sleep in late, until dad comes up and smacks mom on the butt and says, “time to get up.” Depending on the day, she will either walk down the stairs one by one, or she’ll run down, full of life. But every evening, she’ll be back asleep, on the couch with her feet up once the tv comes on. And she’d go up to bed before everyone else.

She would love her treats, just like me. A little pastry with her coffee. Dessert after dinner. A cookie here or there. And if she looks hard enough at you, she might get lucky and you’ll share some of yours with her.

Despite her laziness, I think she’d probably be a sports player. Soccer, because dad is English. That, or line dancing… due to some weird obsession she has with dad’s foot every time his leg is crossed. (Although, Nanny also had a weird thing with his foot every time his leg was crossed too. Strange…) She also loves to chase a ball though. She’s not really great at catching, so, maybe soccer is a good fit.

Generally, she would just love everything about being outside. Making snow angels in the Winter, swimming at the beach in the Summer, laying in the grass on a nice day.

And somehow, despite being so full of life, she would also be incredibly full of love. Her excitement every time family comes to visit would be overflowing. She wouldn’t be the sort of girl who gets weird when someone gives her a hug or says they love her. That is just the sort of thing that makes her the happiest.

Taking a Break – Day 2

It’s 9:00PM but I’m taking her for a walk. It’s the last walk she’ll take for a while, so we take our time. I let her sniff every stick and leaf. At this time, it’s not quite full dark, but the sun is past the horizon. It is quiet, save for my lone foot falls, her sniffing, and the wind through the trees. The trees reach up, way up to the sky, and drift back and forth in the wind. They don’t sing, or clap, just sort of hushhhh, as if telling the world to quiet now. A gentle shushing, soft, like calm waves brushing the sand.

It is quiet here, but the streets are labyrinthine. Twisting, and curving, and connecting, and ending. I let her decide the path though. She knows where she is going. I see a man. He is walking his own dog, some small yappy thing that doesn’t take time to acknowledge any sticks or leaves. His face is buried in his phone. He ironically, barks at his dog to behave as we pass each other.

There is a moment when I hear a rustle. More than a leaf blowing in the wind. I look over and through the trees I see a deer. We are both quiet as we notice each other. It reminds me of the scene in Stand by Me, when Gordie sits alone as the sun comes up. A deer pops out through the trees and they have a moment as they watch each other. I honestly still don’t know the significance of that scene, but that is what this moment feels like. A human and a deer, having a moment in the dim light of day.

I see the same man with his small yappy dog approaching. His face is still buried in his phone. They pass.

When I was younger, every May we would drive way, way out, out to the end of the road. So far I would always fall asleep before we got there. And then we would hike even further than the cars could go, to reach a place at the end of the world. Ocean, and beach, and trees, and fields. We would camp there, in rustic cabins. No sound of traffic, or pollution. I remember, in the morning, the sound of crows, as we rose with the morning sun.

There is that man again. For the third time he approaches my direction, and I am beginning to think he is buried so deep in his phone he has no idea where he is going, or this is a clone and I am in some sort of strange alternate universe. I side eye him as he passes. He and dog randomly turn and descend into the trees down some dark, dubious trail.

It begins to get darker. The only light, garden lights, and lights in the windows of homes, kitchens and living rooms as people settle into the night. I can smell the trees. It is quiet and I know I could easily vanish. I hear the theme from the Pink Panther drift out from my pocket. Another irony, having just finished an episode of a crime mystery, solved by an awkward and unusual individual. It is mother, she is afraid I have vanished. We are close though. Fur sister grabs her leash and begins taking herself down the street. Mother walks to the end of the driveway, barely visible, but Fur sister knows. She runs the rest of the way home, always the most exciting reunion, as though it has been years, and not simply some 30 minutes.

Taking a Break – Day 1

Per the usual, woke up this morning, found myself spooning my precious cat, and for an instant was unsure of where I was. Then I heard my dad downstairs. I could hear the hum of the microwave as he warmed milk, and the weird brrrr of the coffee machine as it sputtered out coffee. A few minutes later I hear him slowly padding up the stairs, a few of them creaking as he passed. I hear him enter my room and the soft thump as he sets a mug of hot coffee on my nightstand. Without opening my eyes, I say thank you.

This is the morning here. Coffee, sometimes jumping into bed with mom and having my feet washed by my fur sister, getting dressed, then driving into town for more coffee.

Its Saturday, and though not huge, we decide to check out the Saturday Market. A total of one street block, two foot traffic lanes wide. The town has dropped precautions and full faces are displayed proudly. Those choosing to maintain safety still sport their cute and personalized masks, …hanging just below their noses. Walking the streets like times before is surreal, but it would seem that after a year of being mandated to keep six feet apart people no longer seem to remember personal space politeness.

Pops and I decide to walk back home from town. A 5 mile trek through streets and trees. Normally nothing to sweat about, other than the million degree blazing sun. Wrong foot attire strikes with a vengeance once the commitment has been made. Dad says that we can call mom to pick us up at any time. I raise the Korean Fighting fist and say, “no! Rose Garden right?” (In reference to the time I powered through a leisurely, horrible walk, in which I threw my hip out, to make it to the damned Rose Gardens. …and then, of course, I had to walk back home…) By the time we make it home I am pretty sure my feet are going to explode from massive blisterization.

I take a shower, and then crawl in for a nap. I think its the first nap I have unapologetically taken in months. Not burdened by guilt that I could be spending my time more productively.