That Trip to Denver

Everything you ever needed to know about Denver but were afraid to ask was actually the title for this before my mind got the better of my hands and explained that, really, there is nothing anyone has ever been afraid to ask about Denver.

Is that a function of the mountains?  Are people afraid that their rocky overlords will come down to punish any ignorance?  Any lack of knowledge about one’s surroundings?  And so, in response, you either ask, unafraid, or pretend that you know it all, hoping beyond hope that the mountains will not come alive, descending… well, really, they don’t have to descend.  They are the descent.

Denver AWP 1

Parking is on the other side of the mountains.

Luckily, one doesn’t need a car in Denver.  Not Denver proper.  Not the Denver I was exposed to (after a half-hour in shuttle bus from the airport that’s been placed out in the godforsaken wilderness).

Denver is one of those cities that I feel I could live in.  Could make a home in.  Could wander the streets with confidence and people would stop me to ask for directions, and I’d give those directions to places I’ve never heard of with a brash and confident smile.

Denver AWP 2

I’m in love with cities.  I’m in love with Denver.  I’m in love with Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Prague, Kraków, pretty much any city I’ve been to that’s not Houston.

And it’s not true that I don’t like Houston.  I do.  It’s a home, for now, and there are many wonderful secrets secreted under the folds of its No-Zoning Laws, and the food.  Is amazing, I know.  And how.

[How? –ed.]

Your mouth will never forgive you.

But Houston, O Houston, every time I leave your borders and land in another beautiful name with streets, sidewalks, people using those sidewalks, I realize how much I’m missing.

Denver AWP 3

There, on a weekday, people on the streets waiting for the trains, dressing the landscape with their presence.  Okay, that’s too poetic.  But people move me to poetry—

And Houston has people, don’t misunderstand me.  People galore.  If we were all piled into a crab pot, no one would be getting out alive (though that’s more a factor of the giant aliens who placed us there than otherwise).

But these gobs and gads of people in Houston are all in cars.  The only people who walk are those who have no other choice.  The buses are full of the poor.  Many people use bikes in the inner loop of the city, but even that form of transportation has its limitations.

Denver AWP 4

Who doesn’t want to live in a city studded with public works of art?  Who doesn’t want a giant blue bear to stare at, or to stare at them like the tasty honey inside a nuisance hive?

What I want is a city to walk in that promotes and rewards such walking.  There are major streets near where I live in Houston that don’t have sidewalks.

They don’t have sidewalks.

I’m looking at you, San Felipe.  And I’m thinking that this lack is because the particular area of the street runs past two well-to-do subdivisions and, after all, why should you give the poor an easier way to show up at your door?

I’m being judgmental here, but I know through experience that the driving culture in Houston (and other cities) allows a segregation that is less noticeable in cities where the rich mix with the poor and all races thread through each other’s lives if only because they’re crossing the city for a necessity.

Denver AWP 6

Sadly, my Denver life may never come to be.  Outside of the need for a reason to go (such as a job), I found my skin betraying me.  More specifically, my mucous glands.

It was the air.  Denver has bad air.

Or more pure.  Or more clean.  Either way you look at it, I was buying chapstick for the first time because I needed it, not out of desire.  My nose began to feel like a dry dock.  My breath rattled dust from my lungs.

If I moved there, would I adjust, or would I need to build a hamster bubble big enough for me to roll around in?

Denver AWP 7

Here you see the blurry harbinger of nightmare reality: a giant metal blue horse with glowing red eyes and a mane of jagged, rusty iron.  He faces you as you approach the airport, calling your bluff to leave Denver and reduce yourself to milder climes.

It’s not that he’s saying you’re too weak.  It’s not that he cares about whether you liked his city or not.  It’s not even a matter of human free will or of any sort of choice at all.  Stare into his eyes and hear his voice resonate in your bones.

I welcomed you into this city.  And I can welcome you out of it, too.

Denver Demon Horse

Don’t test me.

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One Response to That Trip to Denver

  1. Ms. Smit says:

    And the fact that this red-eyed beast crushed its maker makes it all the more god-like. Feel lucky that it let you leave alive.

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