Love in June

            The little boy with the sandy shade of fluff atop his head claimed to me that he was Cupid. He couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old, yet there he stood on my blue and orange flowered welcome mat, cheap downy angel wings strapped to his back and a yellow plastic nerf bow clutched between his pudgy fingers. He stared with deep puddles of eyes that couldn’t possibly be a natural shade of blue. In all the moments of the day, from first light to twilight, I had never seen a sky lay down a blue so blue as this child’s eyes. Across each rosy check a far too generous dappling of dark freckles and his nose moist with the warm goo found within the dark caverns of his nostrils. Though I am sure he explored those caverns all too often.

            The wide grin just below the goo caves revealed a huge gap between his teeth where he had lost the front two. Through the gap I could see his fat, pink tongue. My mind ran over words to make him say that contained S’s then laugh when he couldn’t manage the S sound properly. Mississippi was always good.

            Then his grin vanished and he stuck a pudgy hand under my nose, or rather, as close to it as he could reach. “Two dollar’th plea’th.” Was this kid kidding? A quick scan around the neighborhood revealed nothing unusual. A couple houses down, nosey Mrs. Dumas (pronounced Doo-Moss) peered at us through the cream colored blinds guarding the window. She held a phone tightly, probably reporting me to the police as some kiddie porn ring leader.

            I ignored her and politely asked the boy to repeat himself. He thrust his hand further under my nose, this time standing on tip-toes, as if he thought he might find something in my nostrils. His fingers smelled like peanut butter. Dark dirt planted firmly under each nail, at least, I hoped it was dirt when one finger hit my lip smearing my chapstick across my chin.

            “Two dollar’th plea’th.” Yes, the boy had asked me for money. I asked what the money was being spent on and he said, in a tone that suggested I was some kind of idiot that he was Cupid, again. A quick mental check confirmed that it was not February, nor was it October for that matter. It was the middle of June. The boy wasn’t leaving without his two dollars. I laid the money heavily into the greedy center of his palm, reluctantly.

            The toothless grin reappeared. “Thank’th lady!”

                In one swift, if slightly crooked motion, a bright, neon yellow nerf dart whizzed towards my face. It hit my lip with a moosh, causing more chaptstick to smear.

                Across the way Mrs. Dumas lifted the phone again. Thankfully, the police in the area know Mrs. Dumas and that she had them on speed dial.

                “Now, you will fall in love!” the boy yelled, bending to retrieve the dart from the welcome mat.

                I had to admit, it was sort of cute. I asked who he thought I was going to fall in love with, with my best you-can-tell-aunt-Rose smile. A few jelly beans fell from his pocket.

                “Bea’th me lady. That’th your problem.” He popped a red jelly bean between the gap in his teeth. He trotted down the driveway and towards the next house. I heard him say, “Hi, I’m Cupid. Two dollar’th plea’th!”

Striking Stranger

We have crossed a bridge and entered the parking lot of the trail head. I’m not entirely sure where we are. The sort of place where folks to get their daily fresh-air fix. Not just open window or stepping out their front door, this was where the air is really fresh.
I descend from the cab of the truck into the sunlight. There are times when I know I’ve taken the good days for granted. Cooped up in my room with the window open in a vain attempt to recall the scent of nature bathed in warm sunlight. I suppose there are a lot of things I take for granted.
A waterfall falls ever so sure and strong from somewhere above. My parents coo into the heat of the day how beautiful the place is. I wish I could see it, but each digital picture I take will prove that I really can’t. The desperation to capture one beautiful moment in time and take it away with me, but somehow the moments evade the frame as I wander aimlessly snapping away.
An old man bends heavily over his walking stick, beginning a vain attempt up the mountain. I suppress the urge to laugh. What does this old guy think he’s doing? He is wearing what looks like a pair of hospital slippers. He inches his way forward, desperation weighing on each brow. His hair looks as though it hasn’t felt the stroke of a comb in ages. His eyes gaze upwards towards the top of the falls. What could possibly be so important that he feels the need to best the mountain?
My mind plays over some random, romantic scene. A somewhat younger and spunkier version of the old man, smiling. Eagerly dragging and equally young girl up this hill by hand ignoring her protests and questions. As he reaches the very top of the hill the crease in her brow softens as she steps into view of the dancing, plunging waterfall; the lush valley beyond; and the velvety sunset resting easily atop the tree-line. Maybe she comments on how beautiful it is. Maybe he comments on how beautiful she is. And his grip tightens on her hand as he slowly descends to one knee, producing a small box from his pocket…
And it had been happily ever after for years, until the day she left him alone with only his precious memories… And maybe just this morning he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease…
And two young aides in white rush to this old man’s side not sure how he had managed to wander away from the group. They steer him about and lead him back down the trail past my parents
and I…

Xmas ’22 – Day After

It was a day like any other day (at my parent’s place). But for some reason the fatigue weighed on me. We had a hearty breakfast, and then set out to see what remained of the world.

Already it was clear that something had gone down.

The weather wasn’t favorable. The storm the night before had knocked out the power and flooded some of the roads. It looked a mess down on the beachside, but a crime had clearly been committed. The storm may have uncovered something. Though it could easily have been overlooked by the average passerby, to me the sign was in bright neon. There were drag marks leading into the tall grass.

It would be impossible to follow the drag marks into the grass. It was taller than my head in some places, and married with dead rose bushes. The only ones skilled enough to brave it are the small birds, grown fat without competition for food or risk of predators, and the small bunny rabbits, who burrow in like their own underground network of quick escape routes. Them, and apparently the culprit.

Further down the trail more evidence appeared. The discarded remains of a beach snail. Large as average hermit crabs and some of the residents of this area. They live peacefully alongside the small birds and bunny rabbits. They all live nonviolent lives. To find these remains was proof enough that something bad had happened.

Because the trail was washed out and the wind and tides had carried flotsam and jetsam higher inland than usual, the chances of finding more evidence seemed slim. And there would only be a few more hours before it became full dark.

There was no sound out there. Not the singing of the small birds, or the flapping of duck wings on water, or the gentle wash of the tide on the beach. It was as if everyone knew something had happened. And no one was telling.

Eventually I happened upon an area littered with a dozen empty snail shells. Some were partially burried, some looked fresh. I had somehow stumbled upon the culprit’s killing grounds. And it was a horrendous scene. Who would bear enough hatred to go on a mass killing spree such as this? Or maybe they had been killing for much longer and the storm unburried old evidence…

It was hard to know yet. This crime seemed to run deeper than just the random killing of a beach snail. The birds and the bunnies seemed to know something, but weren’t saying. I’d have to find another way to uncover more evidence. I needed to come up with a motive, and hopefully, a suspect. I needed to know why. But the sky was growing dark, and the rain was moving it. It would be a race against time, …and the elements…

Xmas ’22 – The Day

…and mistletoe and holly and snow and slush and poop…

…and there was a poop…

At some point the smell of coffee hits. Or the sound of music drifts into your consciousness. Or dreams finally bid you farewell, and you wake from your slumber. Who really knows how it happens? But it is never a question as to what day it is.

When you were young it was a day of great mystery. All the things you have wanted and hoped someone had been paying attention, maybe, just maybe someone thought you have been good. At least for the last two months you have been on your best behavior. And you would make your way down the stairs, never running. Not like all the movies. You have had too many accidents on the stairs to dare running down them. But the smell is always the same, and the music is always the same, and the air is filled with some kind of excitement.

It isn’t like that anymore. Certainly you open your eyes and smell the coffee and hear the soft crooning of Christmas music from somewhere below. But there is no mystery to the day. No magic or wonder.

The threat of getting no present should you be bad no longer stands. When one says they don’t want anything, they still will get something. It is too socially unacceptable to NOT get them something. This is a day of giving.

People create shopping lists of things they want. There is no mystical being breaking into your home at night to steal sweets and leave suspicous packages behind. Stockings become holders for all the random candy and other items too small to justify wrapping. And the mystery that is the very purpose of wrapping paper is gone, because you already knew you were getting everything you get.

We finally gather together and begin opening presents around close to noon. No one is in a rush to get moving. Some never changing out of their pajamas. When the first corner of paper begins to tear, it is the dogs who show the most excitement. My parent’s older golden retriever long ago learned the fun of tearing up paper. What once was cute that she could open her own presents has now become a battle of whack-a-mole, except it is snatching presents back from her before she can open them for you. Combined with my cousins’s black energizer doggy who has learned the same game… Slowly unwrapping presents to savor the mystery is a thing of the past. The ground between us is littered with ignored dog toys and shreds of paper.

Somewhere in the background the warm smells of food drift from the kitchen and hunger pulls us from the living room. We snack on random bits while playing with our new toys. Except me. For some reason I never ask for things I can play with. I walk around in my new boots. I flip through new books I won’t be starting yet. Until finally I get on my computer and work on school stuff that has no impending due date.

It feels like a short day. Maybe the shortest. We wake up late. And then it is dark out so early. By 6pm it feels as though we have all been milling around for days. By 9pm we are struggling to justify staying up. What did I even do today? This day that is about family and togetherness. We did not talk to any extended family, and everyone sat around staring at their electronic devices. Maybe that is Christmas now. An internet live time map showing you where Santa is as he flies across the world. No reindeer. All electric fireplaces. Instant video notification of anyone who even gets close to your front door. I made cookies. “World Famous” my cousin calls them. And I left the bottle of White Christmas (rum and brandy) out on the counter, just in case anyone wanted some eggnog. But the dog only barked at my cats. And the nog was only being drunk by me.

In the end, it it’s not really about the presents. The things we ask for. And while it is no longer a mystery as to what is under the sparkly paper, it is an indication that we are not alone. We make a list and send it into the world, and the message we receive back is saying, “I am here, I see you, and I love you.” Maybe there is no cherry cheeked fat man laying down the fear of coal unless you pay him in sweets. But there is the promise of love and warmth as long as you put in the effort to nurture it. Maybe it won’t snow, and maybe you won’t get kissed under the mistletoe, but the mere presence of unconditional love is the gift you are given by an extraordinarily happy man who brings you all together.

Xmas ’22 – Day 3.5

Cutting Hair

I had somehow gotten the idea in my head that in Asian culture one cuts their hair after they have suffered loss or heartbreak etc. It seemed to make sense.

In actuality cutting hair is more of a sign of shame and disgrace.

Maybe it is the same..

In my head though, it still feels like something symbolic. If nothing else, it is symbolic of letting go of what is old, what is past. And bringing change, allowing a fresh start.

I was ready for this. I woke up determined to cut my hair. My entire year has shown me loss, betrayal, and heartbreak.

But a couple hours after waking up, we received a call. My hair appt had been cancelled for unforseen reasons.

You can see that I am an oddly spiritual person. And I can’t help but believe in signs. I was extremely disheartened when I realized I was not going to be able to get my hair cut. But I also wondered what the sign was. For some, unknown reason, I was not meant to let go yet. There is still more for me to do.

I read my horoscope, my tarot cards, and runes. They are certainly not hard and fast truths. In a sense, they are the frames for which you put your own image. Everybody interprets them in their own way.

Today, the message was to trust myself because I have the strength to move forward.

In some cultures long hair is a symbol of strength and responsibility. There is more for me to deal with in my future due to events that have occurred this past year. Perhaps that is the reason.

Xmas ’22 – Day 3

Xmas Invasion

I spent the afternoon busting into fallen alien pods and harvesting their strange alien seeds. It felt almost cruel, yet cathartic. Occassionally, sneaking a taste of the undeveloped alien, red running down my fingers.

Until I eventually found it. The single most unique seed. The one seed with the power to either rule them all, or to destroy everything…

Luckily, I was able to capture and prevent that seed from developing into the alien leader it was destined to become, and to somehow call down more of its alien pods.

Though I fear I may be too late…

What strangeness is this candle whos light is made of water??

Xmas ’22 – Day 2

Playing elf..

Spent some three hours wrapping presents. It was okay, I was determined to do it. Despite finding it tedious. I try to make it fun.

“Oh just put the gift card in a small bag.”

“No way! I much prefer putting it in this big jewelry box with a hand full of candy. That way they think they’re getting something really good!”

The wrapping paper companies must make off like bandits. The only thing more wasted than tissues. At least tissues are useful. Wrapping paper… you spend three hours sizing, and folding, and taping. And you spend 10 seconds ripping it off. Add another five seconds to ball up the paper and throw it at someone.

Three hours. And it is never some elvish stream-lined process. You can never cut a straight line. Despite the dotted grid guide on the back of the paper. Despite utilizing both methods of cutting. The slow, measured snip, which always results in a jagged and sometimes slightly torn edge… or the fast sliding slice, which can sometimes result in a grossly crooked edge, or in the case that your arms are not long enough, the paper bends and the scissors catch and grievously tear the paper…

Oh well, that’s what tape is for right? This magic ‘invisible tape’… that is completely, glaringly visible. Either finish, smooth matte, or vivid gloss. You may as well be using that neon 90’s hip-hop era colored duct tape. …actually, duct tape would probably stick better to some of the cardboard. So much for magic tape.

And, of course, you can never get the piece of wrapping paper just right. You either have too little and thus toss that piece aside and hope you have a smaller present to wrap… or you end up with too much, in which you either stick with it and roll and roll and roll the paper around the gift like a roll of paper towels… or you snip the extra off creating those annoying and useless strips of wrapping paper you’ll never be able to wrap anything in…

It is all well and good. You will hear people constantly and self assuredly announce that they don’t like surprises. Almost as if hanging a sign around their neck that says, “Sucker. Someone hide around the corner and jump out at me when I get close.” And yet they always, always fall into the magical mind game that is wrapped presents. The very purpose of wrapping presents is that the gift is mean’t to be a surprise. The object of opening it is that you want to be surprised. Weak constitution or control freak, whichever you are, nobody DOESN’T want to be surprised. The world would be so disappointing if you knew everything and every action and every event. It is the purpose of our brains to be challenged in even just some slight way. Shake the present (hope it isn’t fragile because wrapping paper with the words “fragile, this side up” would remove some of the magic) and attempt to guess what it is.

And when you tear back that paper (unless you are like me and carefully unstick each piece of tape individually…) even if you knew what it is, you still feel a slight swell of surprise. Because the purpose of a gift is not just to spend money on someone that you know. The purpose of a gift is to show that person that you see them, and that you care.

(Wrapping paper is still kind of ridiculous though… one roll of baby shower paper and you only had one gift to wrap… )

Xmas ’22 – Day 1

Crazy Coincidence, or are we entering Crazy Town?

On the morning of Nov. 13, 2022 police received a 911 call that led them to the bodies of four university students of my alma mater, The University of Idaho. They had all been brutally stabbed in their rental home off campus. None of the victims was older than 21 years of age. The house also had two more roommates, one of whom had made the 911 call. All six of the individuals living in the rental were white. There were no signs of forced entry. And the police strongly believe it to be a targeted attack.

Dec. 20, 2022 the murder still remains unsolved. The police do not have any suspects.

In the early hours of Aug. 13, 2021 police responded to a 911 call in rural Salem, Or. A young husband and wife had been brutally stabbed in their home. The husband died, the wife sustained serious injuries but survived.

Aug. 13, 2022 the murder still remains unsolved. The police do not have any suspects.

They do not believe the two crimes are connected.

In 1987 a man named Michael Francke was hired as the new director for the Oregon Department of Corrections. He uncovered incredible amounts of corruption within the prison system. On the night of Jan. 17, 1989 Francke is found stabbed to death outside the entrance of his office building in Salem, Or.

(Also not connected, but another gruesome stabbing in Salem, Or. just an hour or so north of my current home town, Eugene, Or.)

On Dec. 7, 2022 police released a statement asking for the public’s help locating a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra believing the driver or passengers might have information. They did not have a license plate number and the police have identified over 22,000 vehicles.

Dec. 20, 2022 police have identified a white 2011-2013 Hyundai Elantra in Eugene, Or. and are looking into its possible connection to the quadruple homicide in Moscow, Id.

The police have deemed the car unrelated..


I tend to live in my own little bubble. I woke up to coffee and some six inches of snow. Crime is something that happens to other people. It happens somewhere else. It happens on TV and in novels. But all of this feels very close to me. I, and I am sure many other children who watched it, found the show Unsolved Mysteries to be absolutely nightmare inducing. It was because there was no happy ending, the murderers were never caught, the crimes were never solved. That is this crime. The brutal stabbing of 4 college kids. And the news articles keep pointing to Oregon..

Xmas ’22 – Prologue

And we travel through the wardrobe..

The world is grey and cold. Rain comes tumbling down without hesitation. Water falls as easily as lies off lips. And the air is thick and biting, chasing you away..

My car is like my spaceship, encompassing me with warmth and safety. Through the speakers comes the audio mystery of the 1989 murder of the Oregon Department of Corrections director. The murder, a mystery, spurred on by all the incredible crime and corruption in the state. Most prominently, just an hour North of my home town.

So I fly away. I fly from the unhappiness and hurt of my everyday life. I fly past the town of murder and corruption. I fly North.

Eventually the world grows more and more dark while I glide along through space and time. And as I slide across a bridge, suddenly I am somewhere else. Like the Pevensies climbing through the wardrobe.

The sky still falls. The world grows white the further I go. A hundred shaken snow globes in each cone of orange light I pass. My headlights setting the ground aglow, flashes of twinkling light. Diamonds drifting down without hesitation. Blanketing the ground in a regal gown of white.

And when I finally come to a stop, arrived at my destination, the world I left behind is simply a memory, drifting down to the ground, where it will melt away.

The girl who kept her heart behind a glass door in her chest

There once was a young woman, whose skin was hard and silver, and whose heart was made of precious stone. She kept it behind a glass door in her chest, and at night it would glow like the full moon at midnight. She lived deep in the forest where she danced to the music of the breeze blowing through the leaves and the laughter of the gently, flowing creek. Each night under the smiling moon, her skin would sparkle like diamonds, and her heart would shine like the bright, Northern star. And each night, men would come to the forest, drawn to her, intrigued by her light. And she would open the glass door in her chest for their pleasure, and she would feel so alive. 

But as the night began to lose to the dawn, the bright sun would push the moon away, and dim the glow of her heart. And the men, drawn stronger to the warm and encompassing sun that brought the world to life, would shut the glass door in her chest, and leave her. 

And each time the door shut; a crack would form across her heart. Until finally it had become so fragile, she feared to open the door ever again. 

She locked the glass door in her chest and sat down on a low rock. She sat while the moon danced in the sky with the sun, while one season acquiesced to the next. She sat while the leaves fell from the branches, and the creek was lulled to sleep. She sat as the air grew cold, and frost began to cover her hard and silver skin. 

And as the moon held dominion over the sky, a man came through the forest. He was drawn to her frozen, still form. Such a woman, with fallen leaves all around her, staring towards a creek that didn’t flow. Such a woman, whose silver skin had become tarnished and covered in frost. Such a woman, whose heart was locked behind a glass door in her chest. 

His warm thumb drew a trail through the frost on her cheek, and he thought, if such a woman were to dance under a smiling moon.. (unfinished)

Morning Rain

The rain here is astounding. I can see it through my bedroom window, falling like heavy, heaven’s tears. Like, a gentle waterfall I am standing behind, glimpsing the world beyond the water. In the mornings sunlight blesses my room. I can see cracks of blue sky in the distance, and I am sure I could see rainbows were I on the otherside of the apartment. And I watch it bounce off the cement like jovial children jumping in puddles. The sound on the roof like amplified nothing. The nothing noise that a dead channel makes. I grew up in Alaska, where it rains more than the sun shines. I call myself a water baby. But the rain did not fall with such poetry as it does here. Coming on gently, and then falling with the authority of a symphonic peak. It does not let you ignore its presence.

The Search

I know a lot about my birth situation, which is surprising. I know the circumstances and the situation. I know that they weren’t married, and that my birth father really didn’t want me. I know that that was not the case for my mother. I know that she wanted to keep me. She just wasn’t able to.

Sometimes, I think that while growing up, even though this was my truth, I also saw it as a story. A fable about a poor woman who was forced to let her child fly away into the sky. I think I kept the strong emotions tucked away in the darkened half of my heart. But I always felt something was missing.

When I turned 30, I had a major life crisis. I suddenly felt like I didn’t know who I was, or what I was supposed to be doing. I adopted a kitten who made my life more miserable than it already was. I needed to figure out who I was. I began very seriously thinking about my Birth Mother search.

I struggled with the application. The letter to be written to her. Stuck on its first line; for years. Afraid. All of the possible outcomes rolling around within me. What if she doesn’t want to know me. What if she hasn’t been searching for me too. What if she is dead… I didn’t know if I was ready for the answer. I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready.

I don’t know if it was a woman I once worked with. She was extremely depressed and nobody could really get much out of her. I remember being in her room with her one day. I don’t usually talk about myself at work to my patients, but this time I somehow told her it was my birthday. People are always surprised when they realize I am working on my birthday. I can’t remember how, but I ended up telling her I was adopted, and telling her the whole story, and my fears about beginning the search for my birth mother. I remember that she then confided in me that when she was young, she had given up a child for adoption. And then she told me that she could guarantee that my birth mother wanted to find me.

I don’t know if it was the grey-haired Korean woman who hugged me on the day of her discharge, and told me how proud she was of me.

Or if it was the young, lost and confused Korean adoptee who wrote me a letter about how important I had been for her while she was in the hospital.

Or maybe it was all me.

But I finally finished the letter to my birth mother, and sent the application off to the adoption agency.

When I turned 35, I got a response.

They found my birth mother.

And she wants to have contact with me.

Den’venture – Epilogue

But Seriously..

It wasn’t all bad.


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.