Ok kids, this is bound to be a doozy, since it was a helluva week…two weeks….month……..etc
So, let’s start with some background.
Denver, eh? Yes, actually I was headed out there specifically to meet a fella.
Meet a fella?!? ‘Geez,’ you’ll think – ‘she doesn’t even leave the house to hang out in her home town!’
True, true, but connections for me are few and far between. This gent (who shall henceforth be known as “Tim”) is one of few people I’d even considered meeting in person in the 2+ years I’ve been on the prowl…er…. in the dating scene.
Well, this story actually starts about two years ago.
Tim had contacted me shortly after I’d joined the fishie site. We had wonderfully twisted and witty back & forth emails. Unfortunately, we lived several states apart, and (semi-unfortunately) we both ended up meeting someone closer to home. So, like most people in my sphere, he dropped out of existence. But, for a time, we each had involvement, so I wasn’t stuck mooning over someone I may never meet anyway.
Fast forward 2 years. I was (slowlyyyyy) getting over my quick-burnout courtship. Facebook, that wonderful, yet creepy stalking ground was continually suggesting “friends” to connect with. They look at your email history, and I believe your IM contacts tied to that address, too. (I TOLD you it was creepy).
Anywho, Mr. Tim was indeed listed in their suggestion pile. So, remembering the conversations I’d looked forward to, I swallowed my pride, hesitation, and general anxiety of begging someone to be my friend. So, I hit “Send Request” and let the fates do what they will.
OH THE AGONY!!!! The non-rejection!!! (It was about this time I discovered the ‘not now’ option for friend requests. Yes, this is serious – like maybe if I do 100 push-ups, get breast-enhancement surgery, or chug some brew, you’ll consider me cool enough to ‘friend’… but, as of right now… it’s a pass).
The SHAME! The self-esteem vacuum! The urge to curl up with some liqueur-filled truffles & watch John Cusak movies!
Haha, ok, it wasn’t that bad (though the truffle movie-fest really does sound pretty good right now).
I had FB friends! Sort of… Some of whom I’d actually met in real life (and, of course, an ever-growing population of family friend requests). And I had a job, my camera… and other things to keep me busy. Like the lady in the Valtrex commercial, “I HAD a life” (but, thankfully, not the herp)…
Ok, not a full-on social life, but again, I wasn’t holding my breath or in fetal-position mode.
Time passed. In my world, that means most things stay the same. Work, eat, sleep, internet surf, hope for something better…
Suddenly one day, logging onto my FB, I saw my friend request was accepted.
Oh rapture, oh Joy!!! I am SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE!! The “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” exercises must have paid off!!
He had just recently moved to Denver from his Ohio home, and was finally getting over his last relationship. It was the right time for both of us to reconnect.
So began again the witty back-and-forths, sharp observations, and borderline scarring…. yeah, you know that’s my doing. I actually gave out my # for texting – and we KNOW how rare that is!!! Plus, we added back regular emailing – so it was super funness on 3 fronts! (I have to work up to actual voice convos, but, hell, that’s still a lot of communication).
VD came & went (Valentine’s Day for those of you who actually HAVE a significant other). Solo, of course. But, I get a text asking if the chubby one targeted me. Nope – I’m wily, no arrow wounds for me. At that I got a disappointed text that I had alluded the love-inducing imp. AND a later text admitting that Mr. Tim liked me, and another asking my side. OF COURSE, I can’t come right out and say whether I do. That’s too neked! But, I did admit I hadn’t run away yet (Laura code for – there is interest)…but begging not to be put on that spot. It’s too open & bound to come back and bite me in the ass (of course, I’m super open about my trust difficulties, hermitism, social discomfort and other issuess-ss-sss.) But, it was out there – there was some degree of mutual interest. Again, for me – a rarity.
Then, during one mutual drinking day, he brought up the idea of one of us visiting the other. (It’s not under the ‘alcoholism awareness alert’ if you’re drinking with someone….who happens to be over 1500 miles away, right?)
The timing couldn’t have been better – I was having major stresses & changes to deal with at work & was FAR overdue for a vacation. After feeling (re)connected, and SORELY needing some time away, I decided to combine a meeting and holiday. Plus, my quest to see any and every part of the world was certainly satisfied with the proposal. So, HELL YEAH!!! Someone I like, feel compatible with, mutually attracted – who actually WANTS me to visit?!? TRIPLE WORD SCORE!
So far, so good – we were both game and I had more than 6 weeks’ worth of time I could take.
And… a deep breath. I made the decision – it was GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!!
Now for the fun (aka: Super Stressful Planning Stage). Once everything is sketched out & I have my transport & lodging booked, I’m fine – until then, my mind is a spastic starving, testy TAZ on a cranial rampage. Seriously it’s not pretty.
So, I asked if he’d help scout hotels and things to do there, which was happily agreed to. In the meantime, I work, internet surf in my spare time, check out some possibilities, and wait for the help that’s been promised…
…and I wait…
The few messagess I get are vague, and give me half-answers…with no followup when I ask.
R’uh r’oh. This does NOT bode well.
One night I was checking out Southwest’s site to see where the rates were on the “Arm & a Leg” scale. And shocker! There must be a glitch on these internet prices!!! I actually went downstairs to have my mom confirm on her computer that the Providence-Denver one-way $99 rate wasn’t some weird hallucination. $99 EACH WAY!!! Holy shite! That’s like hitting the aero-lotto! I immediately text Tim & give him 2 sets of possible dates for me to fly out. No answer. Ok, I wait another hour or so (exhibiting major self control, I might add)…before sending the followup “WHERE ARE YOU?!? THIS IS TIME SENSITIVE!!” plea.
Well, I book anyway. Look, there are some opportunities blatantly obvious enough for ME to know the necessity of pouncing. D. U. N. Done! I later get a text that he was in the middle of a photo session w/a large family. Dammit (I do NOT want to be the naggy-interrupting-work chick!!!) But, the dates are workable, and all is good – so I chose wisely.
Great start to this venture with uber-cheap flights. But, as we all know, I somehow ALWAYS manage to veer from the yellow brick avenue that is Easy Street.
So terribly, terribly far off.
Time slips on, running away from me much like the friends I wish I’d had. I continue to try to solicit help, and get messages few and far between. Eventually, almost solely on my own, I have the beginning of a tentative itinerary in place.
I find ONE specific place & ONE specific event I want to go to during my trip. A friend of mine recommended staying a night or 2 at Glenwood Springs – a 3 hour drive from Denver. There are natural hot springs to enjoy, as well as a theme park with cave tours. And, while I’m in CO, one of my favorite singers was scheduled to play at the Aspen Songwriter’s Festival. To my delight, Tim said he’d work on getting press passes for the show, thanks to his photography connections. That would be awesome! [And it actually takes a day to dawn on me that would mean not having to pay for the show(s)]. So, I hold off buying the tickets, and the hotel rooms for whatever night(s), we’d be in Glenwood Springs.
And, I continue to hold off….EVERYTHING. Some cryptic and vague messages come in, but no definitive advice or plans.
Facing many WTF moments, I seethe, fume, hope, wish, check for word, sulk, worry, and keep trying to make contact.
Finally, one day a media message comes through my phone. Damn, this is going to take extra minutes to open. Frickin’ tracfone. I’m in the office at work, on lunch, when the text comes in. My friends and coworkers are there to hear me gasp and sigh when the picture downloads.
What is it – a beefcake image? Cheezeburgerz kitty forward? Picture of an African prince who needs a little donation to liberate his country?
Nope, unfortunately it’s a pic of my friend plugged into monitors in a hospital room. (I mean, !!!!!!!!!!)
Fuck, I’m an asshole. Evil thoughts, insecurity, frustration and stewing abound from a lack of responses to my increasingly-irritated messaging/e-mailing frenzy. And, here he’s been, in obvious medical distress.
Yep, turns out SOMEONE was busy dealing with memory issues, pain, disorientation, and blood in his urine. (I later find out he had really bad e coli poisoning).
Way to go, Pepto. You really are a piece of work, Jerk.
So, some questions answered at least. I know why I hadn’t heard from him, and the lack of detail in his messages was definitely answered by his stint in the hospital. And the fact he’d basically been in a fog for the past week or so due to the toxins effecting his body & brain, as well as the opiates he is currently on for pain. And bonus: Mystery solved without invoking the spirit of those meddling kids!
But, hot damn, do I feel like an impatient tool!
The pic was sent from his parents on his phone. I text back asking to know if he’s ok, what hospital he’s at, etc. Anyone who knows me is aware of the obnoxious & very involved presents I come up with. At the very least, I was hoping to send him a ginormous balloon! And, of course at least have the peace of mind he was ok…someplace.
Alas, I didn’t receive a response to my query. Though I was checking my phone every 15 minutes or so, no messages came back. So, I went back to waiting, hoping for messages/word (and trying to concentrate on making my plans).
Finally, some days later, he sends word he’s out of the hospital, still kinda wonky, and on pain meds. They’d tried every test possible to diagnose some of his symptoms – and the ever-dreaded SPINAL TAP among them!! Yecchhh! Kids, I’ve had a bone marrow test, where they dig into your hip bone to extract some gooey goodness. It is probably in the top 5 of most painful tests of modern medicine. The ginormous needle sucking up spinal fluid… #1 !!!
And STILL some symptoms remained a mystery. Again, I can empathize – having many teeters with ‘we’re not sure what’s wrong with you…or how you got it’ before earning a new Disease of the Decade!
But, he is a trooper (and on pharmaceuticals), and when asked, is still willing to help. Unfortunately, the follow-through still isn’t there – much to my chagrin.
Finally, we have a phone convo (well, a yahoo convo – hooray for NOT having to use my tracfone’s minutes!)… I had asked him to open a yahoo messenger account – with the devious plan of the reward of an actual voice-to-voice chat. It goes ok – a few laughs, a few ‘what’ as we talk over each other, but very few pauses. So, that’s a winner in my book. Finally sinking in how much time’s been wasted, and how close the trip is, he eventually suggests we take an upcoming afternoon together online to try to think of possible events around Denver to check out. I am skeptical as to its fruition as I feel a bit blown off by his lack of finalizing anything. But, I cut a lot of slack because of his recent medical drama. There were a few occasions he was asking advice on places/events from his friends…but didn’t give me any definitive info. However, he later admitted to drinking with the peeps, and the concepts just becoming super ridiculous. Ok, fine, I’ll wait (SOME MORE), as we inch closer to the actual flight!
Yeah, I’m starting to really dislike the situation (can’t blame the person, but can definitely loathe the soul-sucking black hole of dangling doom). I HATE waiting for people because, as much as I love you all – EVERYONE lets me down, drops the ball, stumbles into some all-consuming scenario, or irritates me with a general lack of commitment to the task at hand. Seriously, again – once I have an idea of what’s in store, I’m FINE! Everything left up in the air….well, I know it’s eventually succumbing to gravity. Hey, that’s not my control-freakishness, kids – that’s PHYSICS!!!
So, I resign myself to wait some more. Finally, the appointed afternoon comes. It’s off to a decent start – he sends me a webpage of Denver events to check out, while he looks into things on his end. I check it out – all 75 pages! And choose a few potential outtings. I’m also psyched he mentioned a real speakeasy in the city we’ll visit. And, of course, my palate will most enjoyably partake in Rocky Mountain Oysters! It’d be something new for both of us to try & that’s an AWESOME choice!
I still feel kinda alone in this research, though he gives some input on a few finds I direct his way.
At one point, he says he has to leave – he’s spilt beer on the keyboard & has to go buy a new one. DAMMIT! More waiting!!! I strongly disapprove (but what can I do?) So, off he goes. I keep checking in, he says he’ll be back soon. Meanwhile, I’ve exhausted the events pages, and still don’t know where I’m staying most of my trip. OF COURSE I’m a stressball by now.
Another hour or so later, I text again. He’s decided to buy a new computer. WHAT?!? I reply “just let the damned thing air dry!!” or something similar (meaning don’t buy a new computer if it’s your keyboard). The reply of “Wow. Ok. Leaving soon” seemed a bit put off, but at this point I didn’t care. This was supposed to be MY afternoon, DAMMIT & my trip was less than a week away! And, still I wait. I check in again – seriously, it’s probably been a couple of hours at that point. Finally he admits he’s not the one driving.
So, I’m hanging my sanity on someone else’s whims. That flippin’ figures! Snazzin-frazzin-frickin-frackin suck sandwich!!! (Yes, the most serious irk factor brings out Yosemite Sam swearing!)
Things still in the air: Whether I need to rent transportation (he hasn’t gotten his car yet and no confirmation if he can borrow one for our road trips), where we’re visiting & when, where I’m staying. You know…minor things really.
Is it a WONDER I’m near my limits? And, let’s not forget – this is amidst work stress & EXTRA work stress as no one’s trained to do my job & I’m due back to work the day before physical inventory. This all is just the icing on the crap cake.
Again we go back to the game. A few messages, confirmation of a couple of possible places to stay. I book & send a tentative schedule. As he continually asserts, he’s down for anything. So, ok, it’s booked & I’m getting ready to go.
IT’S BOOKED AND READY TO GO!!!
With whole DAYS to spare!
Ok, I can start to breathe again. This IS going to happen. I’ve booked the concert (actually bought 2 day passes for 3 shows), hotels, etc. I know when I’ll be in each city, and bought some last minute items. I have a plan in place. Tim sends a text that he’s excited about my visit, and, in spurts, I’m getting excited about it, too. All is bueno, and we are back on track, baby!!!
FINALLY, it’s Monday – the day before I leave. I’ve packed (well, ok, OVERpacked), and after an agonizing count-down, my work shift is finally OVER. I am officially ON VACATION!!!! HOORAY!!!!!!!! Hello again, Easy Street – I look forward to following your pleasant scenic route!
Angels sing, willows weep, and stars buck into frothy caffeinated caramel goodness. All is good with the world.
…and then I get the text:
“Going to e.r. I can’t remember shit. Having trouble”
As I go downstairs to tell my mom this latest development, I miss his followup phone call. Listening to the voicemail, it is obvious he is very upset, at least little scared, and frustrated at his situation. He had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon he completely forgot about, and from the sounds of it, he was also having problems remembering my impending arrival!
I leave a message – tell him not to worry, do what he needs. I’ll rent a car, to preempt him sending someone or trying to get to the airport to pick me up. He says he’ll contact me after he talks to the doctor. A little while later, I get another mass-texted picture. You guessed it – he’s back in the hospital, and they still have no idea what’s wrong with him. I can only hope he’ll be ok and able to join me for at least part of my trip. I’m hopeful, but well aware of my old friend Murphy lurking close by, ready to lay down his law.
Goodbye yellow brick road……..
Stay tuned for the next (hopefully riveting) episode of LAURA’S DENVER TRIP!
Coming up: Denver arrival, a missing friend, sanity survival. How will it end?
Well, my ‘vacation’ is half over, and I’m almost in the exact same place as I started. Except, today, I actually have to change physical locations. It’s about a 3 hour drive to Glenwood Springs. Ideally, I want to leave as early as possible, but, again – this was supposed to be OUR time. So, I text to an empty abyss that I will hang around till noon, waiting for some kind of contact, and I grab my camera.
I decided to take one more walk downtown & get some early(ish) shots of the capitol in the A.M. On the way back, I’m psyched to eat breakfast at Tom’s Diner – yeppers – the SAME one from Suzanne Vega’s song (to reinforce this, a version of the song plays a few minutes after I’m settled in my booth). I LOVE diners! From the menu, I decide to get the ‘crunchy french toast’ – how intriguing!!! (It’s french toast coated with Corn Flakes)!! I add scrambled eggs, bacon & home fries to make it a heart attack special. Oh, and a tea to drink – cause I want to be healthy and all! I take some pics – of the diner and my food (yeah, I know – whatever…it makes me happy)….
Stuffed and sleepy, I walk back to the hotel to finish packing up. But, first, I want to see if maybe I got an email. Maybe?!?!? So, I boot up my trusty laptop and click my ‘Safari’ icon. Frickin Macs – even going onto the internet needs to be An Adventure! I get an error that it can’t connect. What….the….fuck? I try several times, fiddling with settings, rebooting, re-re-booting. Still nothing. I’ve wasted at least a half hour on this, and I really need to get a move on.
I have to check out, but I stay in the lobby as long as I can. Since my laptop has decided to be cute and misplace its internet connection, I wait for a chance at the ONE computer Ramada offers to its guests. Nothing in my inbox (not really a shocker), and I send an email, a text – I will head to Red Rocks to see that venue – since it is just barely out of town and I can drive back if Tim gets out & ready to go.
I am not really confident of that happening, but my delusional glimmer of hope dances around my head.
So, I drive to Red Rocks.. in early afternoon – during a heat wave. I REALLY wish I could’ve gotten there earlier. There are ideal times of day to shoot – and under a direct sunlight is NOT one of them. But, I’m there & explore the area a bit. It really would be amazing to see a concert there, under the stars. Maybe some day I’ll get back and fulfill that fantasy. Nevertheless, it was a cool outting on a hot day!
I wait as long as I can before moving on, periodically checking my phone. Finally, I have to resign myself to the fact that I’m driving solo to Glenwood Springs.
The scenery is beautiful – mountains surround me on my journey. Of course I wasn’t trying to take pics of the snowcapped mountains while driving, because that woudl be dangerous… Um…yeah.
The roads get a little freaky the further west I go. There are avalanche warnings, and ‘runaway truck’ ramps because of the steep roadways. Luckily, I do not see any funky accidents (though, you know part of me hoped for a little excitement that does NOT involve me personally). However, the various signs are definitely reminding me of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. And, you know, any time you can throw in a P.W. reference, it’s all good!!
I get to Glenwood & pretty easily find my motel (only a couple of turnarounds!). Yay for immediate checkin! Boo for a flight of stairs to deal with! But, I lug, unburden, and plop.
..but not for very long, since I bought passes to the Aspen Songwriter’s Festival…(which is a 45 minute drive). That’s right – I TOTALLY visited Aspen!!!
It’s more gaping and gawking as I make my way south. It’s beautiful, the sun is starting to set & I’m about to see one of my favorite performers (Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze) in a quiet, unplugged setting! AWESOME!!! I bought us passes to see the whole line up of the night – which includes John Oats (of Hall & Oats), Cy Curnin (of the Fixx), Matt Nathanson & Donovan Frankenreighter (sp?). I’ve only heard of three of them, but whatever, it’s going to be cool.
Of course, I bought 2 passes. Tim was going to try to use his connections to get us press passes, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Neither was he actually able to attend said event. So, I sat by myself, and had different neighbors through some of the performances. I also had my camera (the older point-and-shoot), and attempted to get some shots of Glenn – and in true Laura form, I missed his quick moments of quirk. I’d also taken pictures of Cy Curnin – who had one beautiful and powerful song in his set – that I can now NOT find anywhere.
I was snapping away during the first 2 sets, running down the ornery battery of my little camera. Did I pack a spare battery? Nopers. Did I manage to somehow LOSE the pics I did get of those guys. YOU BETCHA!!!
I had out my cell phone for the last acts. Alas, tracfone was NOT meant for quality pics – by any stretch of the imagination. But, I really enjoyed the show – there was a helluva lot of musicianship, and that’s something I appreciate on its own. Matt Nathanson was a riot, and they played some really fun and groovy tunes. A couple of examples: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtZ72XUG1wU&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCC5d-FoHuQ&feature=related.
Yeah, that’s right, we found another highlight!!! Still, it was sad to see my unused pass. TIM WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU OK? I really wish you were experiencing/enjoying this with me.
And, then it was over. The epic jam session came to a close, and all left happy (some left EXTRA happy since they’d had a few). One other cool thing I’d noticed – some of the musicians had become part of the audience during parts of the show. Now THAT’S coolness itself. To appreciate a peer, or just support them, there’s no better feeling or gift.
I leave, and am happy for the fresh air. However, also a bit trepidatious – since it’s dark, I’ve never been there before & parked in a garage in East Padunkadunk. So, I start walking in a convenient drizzle in the direction I believe my car is in. I feel like I walk WAY too far relative to how long it took to get to the opera house. So, I try to cut back a bit, aware there were two other girls headed in the same general direction. Thank goodness I spot them a few minutes later, as they have found the very garage I was looking for. I didn’t recognize it in the dark – but see my rental calmly waiting for me. Relieved, I exit the gate, paying my fee.
Ok, Aspen – now to find the main highway… in the dark, with little clue how I got where I was… in the rain. Haha – we KNEW this was coming. After driving in circles through downtown and some of the residential areas, I somehow finally find my way. By this time, it’s raining pretty hard, my windshield wipers are not doing a good job, I’m tired, cranky from my circuitous route, overall stressed from not knowing what’s going on with my friend, and I’m really ready to be in bed. Oh, and my contacts are too dry and/or my eyes too tired, so I have a bleary vision of the mess outside my window. I’m leaning over the wheel and driving at a snail’s pace, as everything is conspiring to make me not see the white dashes indicating I’m actually in my lane.
TELEPORTER ACTIVATE: To my hotel room!!!
Well, that didn’t work. Guess I’ll have to press on and..
HOLY SHIT!!!! WHAT IN FUCKALL WAS THAT?!?!?!?!
I am startled as I see this random white ghost-like thing come charging toward my car. I am NOT in the mood to be haunted, spooked, possessed, or poltergeisted!!! So seriously, BACK THE FUCK OFF!!
I continue rolling on, and my adreneline slowly dissipates. I see more of these freaky fliers, and finally realize that I have just witnessed one item from my scavenger hunt list: Tumbleweed. Yeppers, the storm was carrying these albino brush straight into my path. And some of them are HUGE! Not the Critters-sized balls the movies have trained my eye for. Thanks for playing, I’ll be sure to check it off the list when I get back to the hotel. Hell, IF I get back. I have no idea how far I am out, I still can’t see for shit, and I didn’t have time to gas up before leaving Glenwood; of course, we’re creeping toward the gauge danger zone. I must really enjoy the stress of these playful little scenarios I create for myself.
FINALLY!!! Signs for Glenwood.. and a few gas stations. I pull into one, then realize it’s closed. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Aw, fuck it, I’m close enough. Just one thing… which exit do I need and what roads do I need to take? More tumbleweeds flit by merely to mock me. I know their game, so I just drive on. I find a street parallel to my hotel, and FINALLY find a gas station that’s open… and probably with very little juice left. So, I gas up, and pull into my hotel.
Relief, exhaustion, and sadness envelop me as I finally lie down and get ready for merciful sleep.
Aahhh… my easy day around Glenwood. There are 3 things I want to try to do/see in the area. The first is a visit to the Glenwood Caverns – an adventure park with cave tours!!! Of course, i also want to see the hot springs that give the town its name. But, I’m up early and decide to go for #3 on my list: A visit to Hanging Lake – which involves climbing up mountain trails to a beautiful lake lookout. A look outside gives me the giggles – IT’S SNOWING!!! Pretty flurries brush the evergreens outside my window. I’d left Denver in the middle of a heatwave, and now it’s SNOWING! Hello, magnificient mountain machinations! But, I figure, whatever – it’s light snow, and I packed multilayers. I’m good to go hiking!!!
Yes, there are several checks of my phone, to no avail. But, just as I’m becoming blue again, IT RINGS!!!!
Nervous & excited, I look at the number. 401…
Damn, it’s from work! I take a moment to deflate before answering (lest the squeak be mistaken for gas). It’s my boss who’s covering my department, and has clarification questions. As great as it feels to be the expert, and teach something to someone, the luster is gone under the pall of my disappointment. So, I give the info he needs, confirm that, no, my vaca is not going well…or fun, and we hang up. I hate being the downer, but when it’s the truth, I’m not sugar-coating it. OOH, speaking of sugar, I have some maple cotton candy. I’m gonna have some more & maybe a bit of my chocolate bacon bar. (Even typing this experience over several sittings, it’s still a helluva lot)… Mmmm, bacon.
Ok, now I really feel obligated to have some of the maple treat, since i mentioned it. Though honestly, the bacon bar is enough (especially with my vino).
Ok, where were we?
So, there seems to be a bit of a break in the weather, I’m up, and motivated to try to climb me some mountain trails!!! But, first: Breakfast!!! Luckily, there’s a small place sharing the parking lot with my motel. Looking for something unusual, I order some crab meat & egg on toast dish. Yeah – I’m a palette adventurer!
Belly full, I decide to head to Hanging Rock…a couple of hours after I’d intended to leave. It’s still kinda crummy out, but once I get an idea in my head – it’s all over! A short drive and I’m in the parking lot. The beautiful flurries have morphed into a chilyl drizzle. I sit in the car mentally kicking myself for not leaving when it was nicer out. Walking a bunch of trails that are noted as ‘difficult’ is not a good idea under sloshy, darkened skies. Not to mention I’m there all by myself, and could get stuck (or hurt) somewhere up a mountain! However, the decision is made clear while I sit & mentally debate forcing myself to go through with this very dangerous undertaking. I’m at the base of this mountain, yet the wind is so strong I feel the car shake.
Um…bone-chilling rain & harsh wind.. This plan is a bust, so it’s time to mosey back. I try taking pictures of the mountains, tunnels & bridges on my way back to Glenwood, but, it’s crappy out, and I’m driving so they aren’t my best effort. I mean, it’s dangerous to take pictures while driving in ideal conditions, so of course I wouldn’t do anything so foolish in rain/sleet on windy roads in a place I’m unfamiliar with….heh-hem…
I arrive back at the hotel defeated, depressed and lonely. That was a complete waste of effort – and the coulda/shoulda’s invade. “You should have left right when you got up (ignoring, of course, that I could’ve been stuck on the mountain as the weather worsened). “You shoulda tried to find the park instead”. But, if it’s too crappy for outdoor activities, surely the trip to the Adventure Park is a no-go (you have to take a gondola up the mountain just to get to the park!
I want a drink. But, now I don’t feel like actually doing anything or going anywhere. The enormity of the stress of everything falling apart on this trip, and my anxieties about Tim’s well-being have found its moment to scream and echo through my mind.
I settle for eating some chocolates I’d bought on my Whole Foods excursion, curling up in bed, and having a cry.
Ok, enough of that – time to see what I can do for the afternoon. The weather’s let up a bit, and I decide to try to find where the gondolas leave from – supposedly it’s only a few minutes from my motel. So, ready in my multi-layers, I wash my face, get my gear, and head out the door.
This time, I succeed in figuring out exactly where the ticket office is & luckily there is a tour beginning shortly. I end up in a gondola with a fun couple, so there is a bit of comfortable chit-chat as we make our way up. It’s almost a white ghost town when we reach the park. Everything is covered in snow, and, really none of the rides are open. It’s just the gift shop & restaurant, and the cave tours.
Did you know there’s such an entity as “Cave Bacon”? It’s not for eating (or licking)… Seriously, they frown on that. No – it’s a natural formation with alternating bands of color, that, doggonit, LOOKS like bacon. Sorry vegans, there were no “Cave Cauliflower” or “Tofumites”.
The tour lasted about an hour or so, but there was a lot to see, and cool phenomena to witness (and take ZILLIONS of pics of). Ok, they’ll be narrowed to a more reasonable number. BUT there was this one formation they call “Oscar” cause it kinda looks like the statue (actually, it looks like a weird dildo to me)…and water drips on it, making for a potentially awesome pic. I made my attempts and got a couple of good shots. And, NO, there was no hanky panky – for crying out loud, there were CHILDREN present!
There’s really not much to see and do up there after the tour, so I take some pics around the park, then descend again. I’m feeling better, especially since I was actually able to check one thing off my ‘want to do’ list. I decide to keep up the momentum and try to find the hot springs. I’d already packed my bathing suit in case I felt so inclined.
So, driving around the small town in circles for an unnecessary amount of time, I FINALLY find the parking lot for the actual hot springs. Yes, I am special, though CLEARLY directionally-challenged. You know, fuck this P.C. shit – I am a Navigational Retard! It’s ok, since I’m talking about myself. I don’t offend me.
I go in, rent my locker, get my towel, then get changed and showered before going to the actual springs. I half-understand showering before entering public pools – after all, you don’t want a big scum layer menacing the clean citizens! But, seriously, I’m not a skeezer, and the shower is COLD! And, it’s cold outside as well. But, whatever, Colorado, I’ll play by your rules. So, I wrap the teeny towel around me and head outside.
The springs are set up almost like an olympic pool, and are known as the largest of its kind in the world (spanning over two blocks). It’s set up into two main sections – with one being slightly cooler. I immediately beeline for the masochist end, whether intentional or not. I’m able to get a spot by the edge, where there actually is a platform to sit in the steaming water. I’ve visited natural hot spring areas on New Zealand and Japan, and am VERY thankful that Colorado’s version does not have their overly-pungent sulfur odor! Clean and green, Glenwood Springs. I LIKE IT!
Yeah, so going in from the near-freezing air, the water is a pleasantly hot shock. I ease myself in (thankfully gracefully, as the pool is teeming with people). My pump is on a beach chair, and of course I forgot my cap, so worry about the risk of water entering my cannula. But, I figure, it’s clean (after all, everyone showered, right?). I’m here, I’m going to enjoy the experience, dammit!!! (My cell phone’s in my locker, so no chance of that distraction… of course, I feel guilty/worried, but still, I need to RELAX). It really is an intense experience – I have to keep popping out of the pool because breathing becomes difficult in the super sauna. There are a few guys next to me talking shop (construction work and the BS that they deal with), and different people come and go on my left side. I try to be as nonchalant as possible as I pop out of the water to sit on the edge of the pool, but on two occasions air gets in my bathing suit, making for an embarrassingly juicy-sounding squelch as I land. Whatever, I’ll never see these people again. (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t let a single, attractive, nice guy be around for that impression!!!).
At some point during my soak, I realize that it’s not just the air above my shoulders cooling me off. IT’S SNOWING!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! How delightful – I’m in nature’s stewpot, and tiny flakes of relief are falling on me! What a wonderful dichotomy!!
Ok, I’ve had enough. From the chest down, I’m red, some of the tension has gone away, but the breathing thing is kind of a big deal. Besides, I just wanted to be able to say I experienced it (and of course, actually HAVING said experience was key). So, on my way out, I decide to hover over the small jets that are pumping in the hot water. HOLY SHIT, THAT’S HOT!!! Seriously, I’m surprised my skin didn’t just disintegrate. Ow. Ow. Ow. I’m ready to face the flurries now!
Lest the heat aura wear off, I hasten to the locker room, towel off & put back on my multilayers. Ahhhhh. Finally, a neutral temperature.
I go back to the pool, and snap a few pics of the snow falling – as unobtrusively as possible (with my dSLR at full telezoom). Yeah, I’m probably pretty lucky not to have gotten attacked..though, in general, they do seem more mellow in Colorado.
Ok, so now what do I do? I’m starting to cool off quickly, and a check of my cell phone reveals no messages or missed calls. (sad face).
The depression starts creeping in again. I want a drink. And sushi. And a comfy bed. I know – TO THE LIQUOR STORE!!! After some browsing, I settle for a red wine w/screw cap (since I don’t have a bottle opener). I had a menu from the motel lobby of a sushi place that delivered. So, I head back, place my order & make sure to take pictures of my ‘treat’. If you look closely, you’ll notice that I’m drinking my wine out of a child’s souvenier cup from my zoo trip. That’s right kids, I’m keeping it classy in Colorado!
With my cell phone beside me on the bed, I pass out… er, retire for the night.
I get up early, intending to try to get some sunrise pics in pretty valley. This goal is also on my (sadly scant) scavenger list; I missed out on chances in Denver, and missed out on a side trip to Pike’s Peak – waiting on a friend…
So, I have no idea which way the sun is coming up thanks to my stellar sense of direction. I actually set up in the parking lot of the Cavern Adventure park base. I realize that I’m not actually going to get any shots of the sun, so I move to higher ground. Luckily, I’m at least able to capture the terra-cotta, earthy tones and reds as the sun wakes up the mountain. People are starting to wake up, too…and give me curious looks as I stand in the middle of a random parking lot taking pictures of a highway (which, of course, ran right across mother nature’s marvel).
Well, time to pack it up & start heading back to Denver. It’s beautiful this morning, and Hanging Lake deserves a second try! I’m leaving early enough that I figure I can do the hour & a half climb and still get to my next stop (Castle Marne) in time for afternoon tea! Um, yeah – you’d think by now I would have realized my completely feeble grasp of the physics of time and space… But, with that plan in mind, I’m off!!!
There are a couple of rest areas I stop at along the way to take some pictures. Besides, there’s no way I could pass up the “No Name Rest Area”!!! Yeah, sheer awesomeness!!! So, took the obligatory picture of the sign before meandering back on track to Hanging Lake. That’s right, I hit two rest stops on my way to a 20-minute destination. Must be my Rhode Island side kicking in. But, at last my arduous journey is finished, and I arrive back at the base to Hanging Lake.
I have some reservations about leaving my laptop in the car, but, what the hell… thieves don’t visit nature retreats, right? Nature scares em. That’s what I heard…on the streets. So, reassured, I start walking. I’d been forewarned that the climb was difficult, and that it was deceptively a long walk just to get to the start of the path. But, a couple of bottles of water & a few juice boxes stowed, I’m ready to climb a mountain!!!!
It really is like a 10-minute walk just to get to the base. Ah, at last, I see a path. It’s what I expect, a rough path curving upwards. After about 5 minutes, I have to stop as my wheezing is scaring the squirrels. Dammit, I forgot I was ALREADY at a thin elevation…and I’m planning on climbing higher?!? I also hope I have enough juice boxes, because being stranded halfway up or down a mountain with low blood sugar is NOT in any way, shape or form a good idea. Oh, and, let’s not forget alone. Check the cell… oh – no reception! That’s even better.
Well, I am stubborn when I get an idea in my head. So, I continue to climb. There are some rocks to scrabble over, and then I find my first true obstacle. My “Oh, shit” moment, if you will.
Well, it is a mountain…so really, I should have expected snow. It was the ice that threw me a bit. Ice on the clearly designated path…sloping upwards…with nothing to grasp onto but snow and ice.
So, like an elderly person with osteoporosis on ice skates, I gingerly make my way forward. As it is, I’m resting quite often, so I don’t really have momentum. And, though I could technically pull a leg off my tripod as a monopod/walking stick, I don’t think about it till much later & by then, I’m too damned stubborn to try. Oh – and I’m wearing a pair of Roos (not exactly super-grippy hiking boots). But, I decided to go on this adventure, and I WILL TRIUMPH, DAMMIT!!!
I rejoice every time I see a sign marker or bridge on the trail, thinking I MUST BE CLOSE!!! Well, I’m close-r…. Finally, after almost 2 1/2 hours, I see this maze of railing and steps. NEARLY THERE!!!! Hot damn, I need a juice box, and a rest, but I MUST make it to the top first. Pulling myself on the railings, I round the final bend, and at last glimpse what I came here for. A gorgeous, turquoise lake fed by a steady waterfall, only birds and wind tickle my auditory sensors. It’s just me and an Asian couple who had previously lapped me up there. First, I must take in the view. Second – sit down with sugar check. The very nice couple actually offer me a bit of their lunch, but I am content with my juice. They are also gracious enough to take a few pictures of me in front of the lake – and are very tolerant of my super picky ‘one more time, this way’ requests. (It looks like their efforts may have been for naught – I didn’t see any pictures of me in my edited folder… oopsie). They explore a path near the actual waterfall, while I breathe and take in the scene.
Another cool feature about this mountain lake – there is a tree that’s fallen the span, that you can walk across. I am VERY much aware of my balance problems (physical, not mental) before daring to step up to the challenge. Parts of the tree are slightly under water, and there is some wobbling. I’ve left my gear bags on a bench, and just have my camera in my hands. I go almost halfway across and stop – I can see the fish below me, and various plants. I snap some pictures, then remember I have a polarizing filter…. on the bench….safely stowed across the water. Stupid! , So, I slowly, carefully, turn around and head back. I make it without incident and put my filter on. Phew!
Ok, one attempt at a wet, unstable balance beam is daring – two is just retarded. But, mini-bus, here I come – cause there I go!!! Again, I go about halfway across. My feet splash a bit in the under-water parts, but otherwise I go safely. I try to crouch – not quite kneeling, as I try to get those feisty fish. Yes – they’re flirting with me – coming close enough to be seen, but sometimes just under the shadow of the log. But, I continue to take pictures, then turn and get some of the waterfall from my present viewpoint.
I think I have everything I need – and if not, too bad. It took WAAAYYY too long to get up here, and after the hour or 2 to get down, I have a 3-hour drive ahead of me. Time to move out, Pepper. I slowly get out of the crouch and stand, getting ready to turn. As I start walking, trying to navigate over a deep log puddle, I start to sway. OF COURSE!!!! I automatically twist and shift to compensate for my momentary lack of balance. Puddle or into the drink? DAMMIT!!! My instincts save me from falling over, but drive my foot ankle-deep into the puddle I’d been trying to avoid.
Normally, this would only result in light cursing – a potty mouth consisting of “Crap”, or maybe “Dammit”. However, if we will recall, I’m on a snow-filled mountain, with ice on the trail, and I have a long walk down. So, I very well could be facing a bone-chilling slip & slide return in my squelching sock, sacrificed for the sake of myself and my photography. Potty mouth briefly turns into septic speech, before I continue on. However, thank you, Mr. Roo for NOT slipping as I landed that foot. You saved me from a frozen bath, and I will not forget your efforts. But, we must finish exploring the area so we can get the hell down this mountain!
I take the same path as the couple – it goes almost under the edge of the waterfall. Beauty!!! And, even better, there are funky icicles everywhere. It’s like a crystal paradise. I snap away, and marvel at nature’s magnificence. It really is beautiful and calm. As I continue shooting, a random guy comes into the area. I don’t get the fight or flight vibe, and laugh as he says he was glad he didn’t have to take a swim – apparently he saw me as I teetered dangerously on the log, and was worried he’d have to jump in to help me. Trust me – I was relieved as well. He seems like a cool dude & was up with his son, taking in the scene. Another positive interaction on a gorgeous day, within a high haven! Makes me wonder how Tim’s doing & hope he’s all right. Damn, I think I’d gone a few minutes without worrying.
Ok, really need to be moving on. I want to make sure to take a quick trip up to ‘Spouting Rock’ before I go, though. As I’m taking a few last pictures, totally ready to move on, something out of the norm catches my eye. A double-take reveals there is a strange blue bird just chilling on a nearby tree. DAMMIT! Where were you an hour ago, I’m ready to leave!!! Seriously, not ONE animal or bird did I see on my way up the trail. Not even damned flutter till I got to the top & a couple of small ones flitted about. NOW, when I just want to move on, I’m glued to one spot, hoping it doesn’t fly away before I get in a decent shot. Not cool, birdie. NOT cool. But, I’ll play your little game. So, 10 minutes later, birdie flies away. I take a bunch more shots of the lake scene (just to be safe), and finally head to Spouting Rock.
It really is pretty cool. Located on a level above the lake, there’s a small spot in the rock wall that’s literally spouting water. There are more icicles close to the opening. Plus, you can actually see the lake below. Click, click, click.. I take my fill of pictures. I would have stayed longer to ooh & ah, but I really needed to move on. Seriously now – daylight is burning!
I make my way down through the safety zone of steps and rails, and once again find myself facing the neked path. Ok, Pep, you’ve braved snow and ice on the way up, you WILL make it down! Gravity is your friend…and enemy, so for Bob’s sake – don’t take it for granted! I have no pride, no sense of ‘dignified’, so I do what any smart, grace-deprived gal would do: I slide down the icy slopes on my ass. That’s right, I’d rather risk path rash to a broken ankle…by myself…hundreds of feet up a mountain. And, yes, the thought of taking out my monopod (which DOES have a spike bottom you can screw on) DOES cross my mind… But, the heinie-slide it is! And, for the most part, it’s pretty successful. There are a few ice parts that have too much wet snow to do much good, so I carefully try to find the most snow to step on as I progress.
For the record, I only fell twice on my way down.. Once right back on my butt. Ah, nature’s cushioning. And, I believe I had my kneepads on, so the other fall wasn’t bad either. I pass a few people on the way down, wet butt and slingbag slip slidin’ along. That’s right – I am the picture of grace and dignity…and soggy butt. But, at last I get out of the ice zones – when I see the rocks I’d scrambled over, I know I’m almost back to the beginning of the trail. I’m really wishing I’d had more time to spend there, taking lots of pictures of the different colored stones, beautiful ice and snow patterns, and everything else that will make this mountain special and unique. But, alas, I’m really behind my ideal schedule (what else is new), and really need to get a move on.
SOLID GROUND – I COULD KISS YOU!!!! But I won’t because there are other people around. Yes, I’m finally on the cement path, meandering back to the parking lot. But, first, a pee break. (OK, we all know, first was a check of the cell phone. I didn’t have reception the entire time I was up there!) I DO have a voicemail!!! News? Word? Relief? Answers?
Haha – have you not figured out my lot in life YET?!?
I had a lovely message from Castle Marne – the B&B Tim & I were supposed to be staying at that night. They were asking if I confirm whether I’d be there for afternoon tea. Sigh. Guess not. I’d been shooting to get there before 4… but now it looks like it’s going to be closer to 7 or 8! HOORAY!!
Ok.. FOCUS! Back on the road, no more rest stops. Just straight highway east. It really is beautiful here, with red rock mountains capped with snow, and evergreens dotting the landscape. Sure, the air is thin (I still have trouble breathing at night even after being here almost a week!), but it seems pleasant and mellow (but that could be the abundance of green-card carrying reeferites).
I think I ACTUALLY find my lodging without getting turned around, taking a wrong exit or ending up in another city! YEAH! Of course, it’s nearing dark, I haven’t eaten anything really since breakfast, and I’m wiped out. Long drives are bad enough, but after a grueling climb & semi-treacherous descent, I’m fucking BEAT! I easily spot the B&B – like its name implies, the building is a stone structure resembling a castle. Among the neighboring apartments and houses, even at its small scale, it’s an impressive sight. I’m always a fan of small touches, and my eyes are in for a visual orgy…once I can make it inside.
There’s a keypad lock just to open the screen door. Well, I guess a moat would be inappropriate in the middle of a major city – but MAN, that would’ve been cool! I ring the bell, and wait to be admitted.
The woman who answers the door, Mrs. Diane Pieker, is just what you’d expect – a sweet lil old lady. The type who could easily be a milk & cookie granny…or a sadistic cannibal under the guise of feeble, loving geriatric. Come in, dearie! And, yes, her husband enters a moment later, and his friendly, knowledgable demeanor DEFINITELY puts him inside the suspicious category as well.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived. I knew that they let out rooms, each named for a specific person. I don’t know if I’d want to notoriety of a “Laura Pepper” room. Firstly, I don’t think my parents would be comfortable with some stranger tromping through their house. Seriously, it’s kind of a creepy situation if you think about it. Secondly, if it were true to the nature of the organism, it’d be, by nature, virtually unwalkable. Imagine strangers weaving their way through (organized) piles of papers, projects, and clothes – to make it to my small twin bed in the corner of the room. And, if they were to have the full experience (you WOULD want them to get their money’s worth), mom or dad would have to call up “SUPPER”, to which the equally rambunctious “OK!!!!” would be the appropriate reply to call downstairs, from their comfortable lounge on the bed. Random guest Bob would then go downstairs, fill his plate to “Binging Football Player” capacity before squirreling himself back up to the safety of his rented she-cave. BUT – there’s free premium cable, a mini fridge in the room and wired internet. OH – and a nifty smurf collection in the dining/computer room – where one could marvel at mom’s ever-growing collection of little blue figurines. Seriously, it’s impressive and well worth the price of admission! See, we’ve got olde knickknacks and whatnot!
Speaking of – HOLY RETRO, BATMAN!!! As I’m checking in, I can see a few rooms around me. A proper “living room” – complete with silver tea sets, parlor games, a piano – and everything else that would keep guests of the pre-tech era occupied. There’s a beautiful stained-glass window halfway up the stairs to the second floor (where the bedrooms are).
I hold out a small glimmer of hope the other half of my reservation has checked in. Nope. And, it’s small comfort that if he doesn’t show, I’ll only be charged a single occupancy. I’d rather have the person than the money.
Really, I didn’t expect anything good, but still would’ve been nice.
I’m thankful for the quick and kindly reception by the inn’s caretakers, but, yes, I am ready to be shown to my room, thank you very much. We alight the steps (well, I trudge, since my legs are really pissed with me right now. Sure, I’d put dry socks on when I got to the car, but lefty also remembers its extra effort a few hours ago). Luckily, it’s a short journey & James opens the door and hands me the key. I am in the Lang room – and no, I don’t think there’s any relation to Johnny or K.D. Sorry, kids, I know you were hoping.
I get my first glimpse at the actual room; aside from a few photographs, I had no idea what I was in store for. Oh my GOODNESS!!! It’s like a replica of a room from a teeny tiny doll house (which, of course, really are just replicas of life-sized rooms like this!).
IT’S SO QUAINT!!!! A bed, wardrobe, sink in one corner with a hat rack. Yes, a HAT RACK!! The radiator has a menagerie of items on top – including guest sign-in books, other reading material, and a mini-mailbox full of mints. There’s a small bathroom w/toilet and shower. But, it’s the bed that is the clear centerpiece of this micro-suite. THE BED!!! A four poster, w/ dark red comforter and plush pillows. It’s so high off the floor that you need a stepping stool just to get on the darned thing!
Now, this is cool. And, I’m glad I didn’t have any booze cause that’s a broken ankle just begging to happen. Lefty agrees.
But, still, it’s pretty darned cool. It’s set up exactly as it would’ve been eons ago. Ok, well, they’ve upgraded. There’s a flashlight in the wardrobe instead of a candle and flint (but, really – I don’t blame them. You wouldn’t want a pyro turning your lovely anachronism to ash). Plus, there’s wireless internet. C’mon – if Victorian times had the technology, you KNOW they would’ve embraced it – all 5 websites they would’ve had!! But, alas in our (overall) authentic B&B experience, there is no TV. Sorry NCIS, tonight I fly solo.
Totally the opposite of the intention of this trip.
And, with that, I begin my wondering and worry anew.
I’m exhausted, cranky, numbly anxious, lonesome, and I haven’t really eaten since breakfast. It’s probably close to 8pm, and I just want to be settled. A shower sounds lovely.
Oh crap – I left my toiletries in the car. Armed with the code to get back inside, I head back downstairs. James & Diane are merely caretakers, so it’s quiet and uninhabited downstairs. I go out to the rental, thankful it’s still light out. Before I lock the car, I also grab my soaked sneakers so they can dry out in a non-molding environment. Once upstairs, I unpack what I’ll need for the night, and rummage for foodstuffs. I’m hoping I don’t crash overnight, but with a mondo exercise afternoon, it’s definitely possible. Luckily I find a few juice boxes and a protein bar purchased at WF. At least that’s SOMETHING. And, now back up for a hot shower.
There are very few things that I truly feel are completely taken-for-granted luxuries for non-third-world societies. Sure, I miss the super-size option, and the internet is great for my ever-expanding secretarial spread. But, a hot shower brings almost an ecstatic relief that is unmatched by most any other action or circumstance in my life. A close second, of course, is the feeling just after collapsing onto one’s bed after an exhausting or physically/mentally/emotionally trying time. I will enjoy this sensation just as soon as I finish experiencing this wonderful gentle pummeling of steaming streams upon my weary bones.
Shhhhh. Mama needs a moment.
Ahh. Showered, dressed, semi-nourished. Time to log onto the internets. It’s another round of disappointing site round-robin. No word from Tim in an email, facebook, no texts or voice mails. Dammit! This is driving me crazy and disheartening. Just to know what was going on would be a huge relief. But, for today, it is still not to be. I send messages updating where I am, hoping all is well, etc. I know if he legitimately hasn’t been able to check his messages, there will be a SCARY lump sum from me. But, what am I supposed to do, ignore him? Forget that I came here to meet & hang out with him? Sever the one emotional connection I’ve felt in almost 2 years?!!? I’ll risk psycho status in favor of showing someone that I truly care about him & don’t blame him for shitty circumstances.
I only have one more day in Denver, and I don’t know if I’ll hear from him before I leave. With that thought, methinks it’s time for sleep – maybe tomorrow will be a better day. So, as I’m now a few feet off the ground, I try to drill in my head NOT to have a sugar crash or need to piddle, lest I forget about my potentially perilous dismount. And, as I’ve now done 3 nights in a row, I make sure my cell phone is on the bed next to me…just in case.
Dammit! Stupid sugars!!! It’s the middle of the night, and I think I’m almost out of juice boxes, but I’m shaky. Luckily, I’m able to scrounge for some sugar sources, and take advantage of the hard candy curteously left for guests. But, man, NO MORE CRASHING!!! Seriously, disease, you’re really starting to piss me off! I’ll lower my basal rate so less insulin will suck up my Werther’s Original. Now GOODNIGHT!
A deep breath and I open my eyes. It’s morning, and I’m in a big girl bed. My phone has made no sound or shake, but I check it anyway. Then I turn on my computer and confirm its lack of word as well. Oh well, can’t blame a girl for trying.
I have a breakfast reservation for 8:30. Considering my nutritional routine over the last few days, I’m especially looking forward to this part of my stay. I get dressed, and start to look at pictures, waiting for the magic hour. Then, I head downstairs, and enter the dining room. It’s another knick-knack-paddy-whack wonder. I sit at a beautifully decorated table with a full-service breakfast served with a smile. I love everything about the room. There is classical music playing, tea or coffee offered right away, and even what appear to be porcelain placemats with a simple picture of flowers in a basket.
As James offers me freshly-baked muffins, I am joined by two other guests. A father and daughter, visiting from California, sit opposite me. Of course, we attempt to make wicked awkward small talk and are grateful when breakfast arrives. The main dish is a southwest fritatta – a little spicy, but absolutely delicious. There’s almond bread, and homemade jams. The plate also has fruit slices and edible flowers. You KNOW I took pictures. Yes, my host and fellow guests looked at me funny, but I didn’t care. THIS is an experience. I’m all about the details, and care that people can put into presentation and environment. I really wish I’d spent a few days here. Regardless of the uncomfortable scenario of sharing breaky with perfect strangers, it really is a relaxing getaway with friendly and knowledgable hosts. James bends our ears with some of his favorite sights in Denver, and the surrounding cities. We listen with amused patience, but I won’t say we didn’t exchange a few glances…
Dad and daughter leave to get ready for their day, and I continue my photo odyssey. I need to check out in a bit, so I take a break to pack up my bags and dried sneakers. I take some photos around the room – and manage to get a shot of myself in the mirror that could almost pass for a portrait. I also take a closer look at the guest book. As I flip to a blank page to leave my mark, I am giddily gawking at an entry. It’s signed “Vern Neitr” ‘Zuni’ fetish carver’.
What in the hell is a FETISH CARVER?!? A wily whittler? Is he carving people? Creator of hand-made phalluses? I’m INTRIGUED, APPALLED and EXCITED at the same time!!! Now, THIS has made my day, and I think I’ve seen everything of interest in the room.
I lug my load downstairs, and leave everything by the checkin desk. Then I take some time to explore the living room, taking pictures of the bits and pieces that fit together into this trippy timewarped travel lodge. There is no door to this room, but a set of plush curtains pulled back, perfectly frames this portal into pre-i-Life. There’s a fireplace w/flowers behind the grate, and an old desk w/twin chairs by a trio of lace-curtained windows. Actually, I find the chairs creepy – for some reason, they bring to mind the twins in The Shining. Seriously, it sticks in my mind every time I look at the pictures! And it does not help that the room is decorated and painted with dark red hues. However, my mind is taken away from the dark place as I scan the rest of the room. There’s an old fashioned rotary phone, Victrola, and various other toys and gadgets scattered throughout the room. As I’m photographing the tea sets, James enters the room and asks “What are you taking pictures of NOW?!?” I take a moment to gauge whether he’s offended, but I think he’s just amazed at the amount of things that capture my attention. Like I said, I’m all about the details, and this place is FULL of them. But, now I’m a little self-conscious, and only take a few more shots before heading over to turn in my room key and check out. But, outside, I take some more pictures of the exterior. It’s just what I do.
I’m a little sad to leave this haven, and even more so since this is my last day in Denver. Today, I’ll be heading east – to a hotel close to the airport. One reason I chose it is that there’s a wildlife refuge in the area. I follow my trusty Mapquest directions, and make it there in good time. The only thing…the directions lead me to a high school. Ok… I’ll go down the street a little… No-go.
DAMMIT!!! Ok, I know I google mapped it, so I must have missed something. Back to the high school… Well – there IS an indication of the Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, but it says “Authorized Vehicles Only”. Am I authorized? Are visitors allowed? I park over to the side, and decide to walk the perimeter of the chain link fence I see surrounding the refuge.
Crap, it’s hot out here. Should’ve had some water with me. Hooray for desert environments. But you know what’s in deserts? TUMBLEWEEDS!!! Yes, I see large and small dustballs spring and frolic across my path. I try to isolate them with my camera and only hope I get a couple of clear shots. There’s also a lot of little prairie dog mounds dotting the ground to the left and right of the path I’m on. Maybe I’ll actually SEE some wildlife!!! Sure enough, eventually I see the little heads pop up. YAY!
I walk another 10 minutes or so, still on the wrong side of the fence. It’s really hot & windy, and as I round a bend, I see there’s still a LONG stretch of chain link before me. Ok, apparently I’m not going to find an entrance. Time to start heading back.
OOH! Prairie dogs out of their burrows!!! Slow step. Pause. Slow step. Longer pause. (I’m still probably at least 100-200 feet away). Sloooow step. Snap some pics – where the critter is just a small speck in the frame.
I check my phone. Because that’s what I do.
THERE’S A MESSAGE!!!!
Nervous, excited, hoping it’s not another psych! moment, I open the file.
“Im at the denver colorado neurological surgery center. I am having an angioplasti like thing for an artery in my head”
Panic pant…panic pant
Artery in my ..(panic pant) HEAD!?!?!?! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I KNEW I shouldn’t have come here! Stupid! Stupid! STUPID!!! I should’ve been available to get this message ASAP! Who knows how long ago it was sent (I don’t think I was in a state of mind to actually check the message details for that info)… Is he ok? WILL he BE ok? Was he not ignoring me? Would he want me to be there? Do I cancel my plane ticket now? Does his family know?
I frantically text back. I want to be there, dammit! I just need to know where the hell this center is.
I continue toward the car, waiting for a response. In the meantime, I try to distract myself by getting pics of the closer-by-the-moment doggies. But, really, who am I kidding, this latest turn is scaring the shinola out of me. Prairie pups are no match for doomy-gloomy visuals and scenarios – the type which fester quietly in my brain at all times, just waiting for their moment to shine.
I’m done snapping, probably close to snapping, so I hasten to the car. One check of the phone before I go.
Did I miss my window of opportunity? Will he get back to me? Will I get to see him before I go home? WILL HE BE OKAY?!?!?!
Go-Go-Gadget GPS – TO THE HOTEL!!!
Um, yeah, much like the Inspector’s defective detailing, my direction-sense is hopeless. And, I’m still too stubborn to actually try to work the damned GPS mom loaned me for the trip. As I attempt to follow my written directions, I loop around various parts of eastern Denver….and not necessarily the best areas either. Any time now, highway… Since I had directions from 2 starting points, ONE OF THEM had to come to fruition eventually.
And, so it came to pass. I FINALLY found my way to the hotel!
Park. Breathe. Breathe again.
Ok, let’s get this show on the road, I have luggage to lug, and emails to check. And one last, lonesome, antsy day here in the west – and, damn, it’s flying by too fast. Bags in the car, bags out of the car, check-in, check-out, worry, worry, worry, scurry, scurry, scurry, sit in hot springs in a flurry. Missed the sunsets, missed the parks, missed the speakeasy, missed the Rocky Mountain Oysters!!! And of course, a missed opportunity to spend time with someone I let myself care about.
Stupid feelings. Stupid clusterfluff of a life. A-holes let me in, make me care about them, then vanish – by malice, apathy or circumstance – it all feels the same on my end.
I picked this hotel because it was closer to the airport, and I was looking forward to cocktails w/Tim during their FREE DRINK happy hour. It may just become my ‘numbing hour’ if I make it there. C’mon Laura – let’s get inside & checked in.
The automatic doors usher me into a cool, air-conditioned lobby. But, that’s not all that’s cool. There is an atrium w/fountain, and the rooms all overlook this central attraction. There’s lots of green and a real feeling of class, swank, and LIFE in here. Check-in is simple, and I take the elevator up to my room… er… SUITE!
Apparently this place caters to business travelers, so the rooms are a home away from home. My room opens to a living room – with big-screen tv and kitchenette. There’s a bathroom – with bath/shower, and a separate bedroom – ALSO with big-screen tv! Seriously, if I’m ever back here, I’m staying here again, it’s gorgeous and comfortable!
Pee break! Then, close second priority – connect to internet & try to find this hospital.
OF COURSE there’s nothing with that exact name. But, there IS a similarly-named facility right in this area. I call – no-go.
Not surprised. But…Shit!
Ok, let me try calling the other neurological centers in Denver.
As a last resort, I call Tim’s neurological doc’s office. I ask what facility he would send a patient to, since I THINK he’s affiliated with the nearby Porter hospital. And, yes, they confirm that’s the most likely choice.
So, full circle from day one in Denver, I call the hospital. No, he is not a patient there. Of course. What did I expect – to actually FIND him?!? SCREW YOU, LAURA PEPPER!
Somewhere during this gut-wrenching week, either by my own logic, or mom’s input, I put together the idea of the HIPPA laws. I don’t know if you had a person’s name and what they’d be in for if the hospital would tell you flat out they weren’t there. It’s a distinct possibility. He could ABSOLUTELY have been in any of the places I called, but by law they couldn’t tell me. Of course, in that case I would’ve MUCH rather heard a “We’re sorry, we can’t give out patient information,” than the guise of someone checking who wasn’t going to tell me fuckall anyway!
By the way, as much as these regulations may be necessary and well-intentioned, they are also HORRIBLE! What if your father/sister/mother/brother was in a car accident in a coma. You call every hospital because you haven’t heard from them in a week…but NO ONE will tell you they’re there! Do you have to wait for them to get out of the damned coma and sign a info release document? IF they’re not a vegetable at that point?
You know, I have plenty of reasons to loathe the medical system and its minion sub-branches. But, really, this is a new low. Seriously, it’s privacy at the expense of peace of mind and must-have information. I wonder if there’s a point to me wearing a medical bracelet with my contact info on it. Are we/will we get to a point that it won’t be used for this purpose, instead absconded by a pervy crank-caller? Or, better yet, an impersonal billing office?
Here we are again, panic-angst, my old friend.
Nothing more I can do. Time for a bath. That’s right, scalding hot water fills a porcelain vessel wherein one can ease into a lounging position and take in the relaxing properties of nature’s life-giver. Oh water, you are far more to me than I could ever be for you. I am shamed in my inadequacies. But, I’m going to forget about that as I ooh and ahh in your tension-melting embrace. Of course, the phone is on the floor beside the tub, but, as predicted it doesn’t ring or buzz, so I am not distracted from this languid liquid luxury.
Ahh – now I feel better. Hot water + lovely lounging slouch = “….ssshhhh, I’m having a moment.”
But, I haven’t eaten anything since my fancy-schmancy breakfast. And, now for the agonizing process of making a simple decision. Seriously, it’s no big deal for me to decide to fly across country to meet someone – but, come time to get some vittles and I’m all flustered! I’m in the mood for Mexican, and luckily there are a few places closeby. I’m also keeping in mind my goal to get some sunset mountain shots, as well as hitting the hotel’s FREE HAPPY HOUR!!!!!
I leave the hotel, and remember to gas up my rental, since I didn’t prepay & don’t want to get rogered at the pumps near the airport. Then, to the drive thru! Mapquest, you have failed me again! I drive up and down the street until I finally find the small snack shack tucked in front of a shopping plaza. My super-compulsive nature propels me to order enough food for 3 people, as usual. On the way back to the hotel, I look out for a candy place I’d seen on the Mapquest map. Alas, it is a distribution center and not a storefront. So, no delicious delicacies for me.
By the time I make it back to the hotel, the Happy Hour is half over. WHY, OH WHY did I go and buy food? They have bar snacks!!!!
I scarf my taco salad, tacos and whatever the hell else was sitting in my 5lb bag in front of the tv. Unfortunately, time’s a ticking – it’s going to be a tossup between trying to get some sunset pics and actually getting some gratis boozing on.
What, oh what, is a girl to do?
Hmm, well, Mr. Phone, what do you have to say for yourself?
Well, I guess that cinches that!
I head downstairs, room key, ID, pen & notebook in hand. GET IT ON!
And, now, we again visit said journal:
“I’m sitting in the atrium of the gorgeous Embassy Suites Hotel. I think this is the sort of place my mom would like to stay at. Beautiful lobby, rooms have a living room and bedroom, bath – view of the mountains. CRAP, I”m missing mysusnset!
But, what makes this now one of my new fave hotels? HAPPY HOUR, BABY!!!! That’s right – there’s a “Manager’s Reception” every night between 5:30-7:30. – complimentary snacks AND DRINKS!!! That’s right, I said DRINKS!! And tshe didn’t even check IDs or room keys!
Of course, a $1 tip is a good idea (and I can’t tell if the server’s on something), but I got a Long Beach AND Buttershots on the rocks for FREE!!!.
And, there really seems no limit on the number you can get! She seriously asked if I wanted one or 2 with the first order – and that’s the equivalent of a Long Island (which I’m now gulping hoping to catch the end of sunset. Damn, I think I missed the opportunity.)
Damn, I’m an idiot.
And still no word from Tim. Guess the second meeting’ll be a no-go.
I’ll have to take a pic of the lobby when it’s not crowded. Really wish I’d been here one more night. Of course, I’m half-debating staying a few days to see Tim. Yeah, I dunno what’s up with that – actually caring about people and their welfare and whatnot. Plus, I’m kinda bummed we never even took a pic.
Also wish I’d stayed longer at Marne Castle. Though it was a wee bit uncomfy sharing breaky with strangers…and awkward, overall it was a really peaceful and restful environment – with wireless accesss to boot. Hell, guests were eevn able/invited to play the piano in the living room (till 10pm). I, of course, did not embarrass myself with this entreaty.
I’m starting to wonder if this Happy Hour gig is a predator’s invention – I will be getting up in a few to go to my room. (And, I’ve missed my Rocky Mountain Sunset.) Will I stumble? Will my gait and glazed eyes scream “VICTIM”?!? Believe you me, they did NOT skimp on the booze.
As usual – COULDA/SHOULDA/WOULDA – if I hadn’t gone to the “Del Taco”, I would/could have been here earlier and actually ot my pics, dammit!!
As it is, I’m about to do my walk of shame and sigh as I see the darkened skies outside.
Yeah, I think I actually may have gone up for another single beverage. I was just in that mode – you know the one. The one-eye-half-closed, I need to just buzz out, numbify and hope it’s not the old skeezers checking you out (and counting your beverage totals). Damn, where are the cute guys at? Ok – let’s face it, I wouldn’t do anything with a stranger, but even eye candy would be welcome at this point.
Hello, Mr. Phone, do you have anything to say for yourself?
I thought not.
Ok, self – get thee upstairs.
I manage to get up and across the room, leaving behind my munchee popcorn and goldfish (We love the fishes cause they’re so delicious!) I’m not staggering or stumbling (which is DEFINITELY a good thing since I basically pounded my drinks like they was my bitches! Ok, I REALLY don’t condone the pounding of bitches – even if they ARE holding back yo money. Hey, skeezers gots to eat, too, right?
…and manage to make it back up to my room. I immediately go to the window and see if I can get some night shots. Luckily there is a crescent moon & I get the lens right up to the glass. I bet this would’ve been REALLY pretty an hour ago as the palette changed from baby blue to black. Oh, well, I’m a schmuck. Time to flop on the bed.
Hello tv, my old friend. Amuse me until I’m ready for sleepy. Internet, tell me something new and wonderful.
You’ve put in a good effort, but alas, I’m ready to not be awake anymore.
I carefully open my eyes, and take a moment. A slow rise to a sitting position. No spins, no sickness. I’M IN THE CLEAR!
Hooray for blossoming alcoholism – I don’t really feel hung over. Which is wonderful, since I’m flying out this morning.
Away from Denver, 1700 miles from Tim, the very reason I made the trip, who I met briefly in VERY stressful circumstances. It was but a moment, overshadowed by a cloud of craptastic claustrophobic classic case of a Laura Pepper preposterous passage promoting preclusions to a perfectly peaceful pedestalization of a potentially permanent party to become a member of my meandering motion toward meaningful matching of a male making me…… happy, safe, loved and alive.
No pressure there, right?
Guess I’d better pack up – it’s time to head home. And, no – there’s no word, so canceling my flight at this point is not an option, since I could be in the isolation booth forever, for all I know.
We’ll catch you on the flip side, kids – part 3 of this saga is soon to come. As it is, this took several sittings over MANY months to get together, so take some time to digest this doozy. And, as always, feedback, sympathy, empathy, or whatever is welcome and encouraged.
Thanks for reading!
Ah yes – of course it’s too long… we’ll be breaking this into 2 parts.
So, Snapfish is having one of their obnoxious sales – 200 photos for $2. I haven’t culled my Denver pics enough to have them printed yet. As I’m scrambling to delete photos from my trip, I think it’s a good time to revisit my story. I will not make the 200 cut-off, by the way – I have WAYYY too many (as usual).
I come onto hotmail to my drafts folder. And…there’s only part one. OF COURSE.. I thought I’d already started writing out the actual trip, and with months gone by, I’m sure there will be a lot missing. But, my indulging reader, that may be to your benefit. I have only a smidge of a handwritten beginning…to the middle.
So, we come to Part 2 of My Denver Trip: Off and Away!
A quick recap of Part 1:
Over the course of a couple of months, I’d reconnected with Tim, a cool “potential” online. In that time, we’d reestablished our mutual interest & thrown my turtle timeline out the window. I was planning on flying out to meet him as part of a much-needed vacation.
I KNOW!!!! SO out of character!
But, balance intervened. This craziness was definitely offset by typical a “Laura Pepper Chaos Chain” (seriously I’m thinking of submitting it as a phenomenon of physics).
The preparation phase was plagued with my typical combinations: not enough info, delayed bookings and event planning… oh – and the small matter of Tim’s time off-grid, where I couldn’t get a hold of him at all. And, that miniscule detail that he was hospitalized at that time for a serious illness.
That’s starting to sound more like it, right?
So, revalidating my confidence that I can’t rely on anyone and that my life really is a comedy of errors, I put together my trip virtually by myself.
The eve of my trip I’m packed & ready to go, relieved that everything is at last all set.
I get a text – Tim’s going back into the hospital AND they don’t know what’s wrong with him.
As Sam Beckett would say:
Flash in on Providence’s Green Airport (which is actually in Warwick, RI). Note: There is no bluish glow around me – so I know I’m still just me.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
It’s a breeze going through check-in and security (1 of the reasons I choose early morning flights) – plus Southwest’s pre-printing boarding passes is a cool feature. Of course, you’ve got to be ready, exactly 24 hours before your flight to click through to get the earliest boarding groups. And, you still have to join the cattle queue, but at least you get it over with quickly!
So, a bit of a breather before the flight. Make sure to pee, and I’ve got my documents ready…
And…it’s time to board! And that’s only a puddle jump flight to a hub – before Denver!!! A short layover, then boarding flight #2!!!
I choose my usual – a window seat by the wing. I love the view and techno-robo 80s sounds as the flaps extend. Yes, I am special!
…And, what’s behind me? A family with a little boy… CRAP!! I can just picture the tike kicking my seat all the way to Denver! But, I know it’s going to be a long week, with a time difference (which I didn’t do so well with in Vegas), so I decide to rest up on flight #2. Finding my usual ways to contort myself, I manage to curl up – without getting into the middle-seat guy’s space. I close my eyes and keep forcing myself back to a doze throughout the flight.
At last, we hear the final descent page.
YIPPEE!!!!! Almost there!
I detangle, stretch out a few cricks, and stow my bag. I make sure to place my tray table and seat in their full and upright positions. Yes, I am a model flier!
At this moment, I begin to face the fact that I AM ON VACATION!!!!
As we get up to leave, I turn around to the tyke-toting family behind me. I just have to say that their son was probably the best-behaved child I’ve ever sat in front of. I’m usually so nervous when I’m near a kid – but he hardly kicked my seat and was really pretty quiet. I got to sleep a lot on the flight! The kid doesn’t leave me hanging with my hi-5 offer, and I start to deplane. Things seem to be looking up, I’m free, rested, and ready for some good times with my (hopefully ok) Colorado friend!!!
But first: I gotta pee! That’s the only down side of a window seat – the total awkwardness of getting to the lav… especially when one or more of your neighbors is sleeping. So, you hold it and pray for a smooth ride.
Winding my way around, I find the baggage claim. Denver has a really beautiful airport, and I take some pics of greenery. However, I am careful not to take too many pics. I’d rather not be delayed for ‘questioning’ by overzealous authorities.
Bladder empty and bags in hand, it’s the time to call Tim & let him know I arrived safely. I also keep my eye out in case he forgot I said I was going to rent a car & sent someone to pick me up. No signs for L Pepper, no one giving me ‘the eye’… So, I dial.
…and get an invalid number automated message.
I try a second time – with the same result. I’m going through my contact list & not typing the number by hand… so, it IS his number.
I try the 2nd number he left me (which I call the Batphone & have it so programmed in my phone). At least I can leave a message on this one, which I do. I also text both numbers, in case he gets to one first.
But, I don’t get it.
I’m alone, 1700 miles away from home, and the one person the trip is revolving around can not be reached.
That nagging pessimistic side of me (I’ll call her ‘mom voice’) is wondering if I’ve been played. If this is someone’s jolly. Pretend to make a connection with someone across the country, have them fly out with the understanding that you’re going to meet, you like each other, and at the very least are friends…with the potential for more. Then, DROP EM like a hot potato!!!
At the moment ‘happily ever after’ seems more a cruel joke than fun fantasy.
Well, I can’t sit in the airport all day.
I take the tram to Enterprise, where my car awaits. It’s a relatively easy exchange, and soon I’m driving my rental out of the massive airport complex.
Before I left, I wrote directions to all the major places I was going to visit – and my hotel was first on the list. Despite earlier protests as to the shadiness of my choice, it was cheap, and pretty close to the botanical garden and zoo. So, hookers & crack dealers be damned, I’m headed to East Colfax Ave!!
Fun fact: Colfax is the longest continuous street in the United States.
See, who says you can’t learn something useful from my ramblings?
So, on this long and winding road, I take in the scenery. Sure, there are a lot of run-down areas, and various types of people milling about. However, what I find most surprising and/or disturbing – is the number of Family Dollar stores on this one street. Seriously, I’m not sure if we have that many locations in Rhode Island. Must be a lot of families…. with stacks of ones.
I find my hotel relatively easily – it’s a Ramada, and, for being near the ghetto, it’s actually pretty nice. I unpack the car, check in & dump myself and stuff into my room. Now what the hell am I going to do?
I try Tim’s phones again. Same error message on the main one, no answer on the Batphone. He could still be in the hospital – and that’s my GOOD possibility. I try calling the one he was admitted to a few weeks before. They do not have anyone with that name admitted. SHIT! I try emailing him – asking that he just get in touch with me, since I don’t know what’s going on. And, I’m back to being at a loss.
I also haven’t eaten all day (not that I’m particularly hungry with this all going on). But, there’s an Irish pub across the street. I bring my little notebook and my stressed self to Irish Snug restaurant and bar. I order some pretty damned good pub food, and more drinks than I can finish. Depressed, confused, and (possibly) a rejected joke, I text my sister-in-law… and write.
(Please join me in a 10-minute frenzy, as we search 2 rooms, and my car for my notebook… And, it was exactly in a place that I would NOT have normally put it. Bravo, Laura. Bravo!)
[My angsty, alcohol-fueled prose follows…and, you know, it may look no different from my usual writings!] I apologize for the doubling of experience, but I don’t feel like editing…
Tuesday, 3-29, 4:30 Denver Time
So, I’m sitting in an Irish pub across from my hotel. It’s Happy Hour & I could sure use it. At the moment, I’m confused, upset, tired and ready to be either borderline humiliated or embarrassed…and YES, there is a distinction.
Ya see, I haven’t heard from Tim since last night – he texted he was going to the hospital. His case of “CRS” seems to have been a real symptom – he ended up pissing blood again (after having similar disorientation and effects a few weeks ago).
I had gone downstairs to update mom (an hour or so after the text, I got a pic sent from the hospital). By the time I got back up, he’d left a message. He sounded genuinely upset & frstrated about the fact he couldn’t remember even his Dr.’s appointment & I thought I detected an edge of scared in his voice as well.
Well, who wouldn’t be – seriously?
So, he assured me I’d hear back after he talked to the Dr. & said either he or a friend’d meet me at the airport. I replied that I was renting a car – do what he needed to.
Fast forward – I texted him from the MD airport just before I left. No reply… Which was fine since it was only 8:30 am here. Got to Denver & texted/emailed.
No reply. Ok – still…he’s in the hospital. It wasn’t until I tried calling that the Dodgy Dong of Doom started going off.
I dialed right from his “Contacts” name on my phone – the SAME one I’d been texting all along.
The SAME one I left a message on last night.
BUT, this time, I got a dialed error message. Ok…maybe there was a fluke in my phone and it somehow reprogrammed his number.
Keep in mind – I believe in infinite possibilities in this world and it’s not TOTALLY outside that realm.
I even try the “Batphone” – where I’m at least able to leave a message.
But, no reply.
So, I try dialing it without the area code. Still a no-go.
By now, I’m really getting concerned. How long DOES it take to eradicate all traces of a person’s existence? And, if that’s the case – was it ET or Big Brother? Did he see something he wasn’t supposed to? A witness to nefarious naughtiness on the part of a PTB?!?
FER CHRISSAKES, I flew across the COUNTRY to meet this guy on my vaca! If he’s been “nullified”, then that’s a fine how-do-you-do!
So, keeping an eye out at the airport in case he forgot I’d arranged transport (remember: He’s having a major case of CRS), I get my luggage. I send an email detailing I can’t call him, and I’m now going to find my rental.
At least THAT step was relatively easy.
Of course, it’s a different story as I try to navigate to my hotel. YES, I did pack mom’s GPS, but I had my handwritten directions & some guidance from the lot attendent.
But, the “Laura Pepper Misdirection Gene” activates as usual. Go-go Gadget WRONG WAY!
So, after a needless loop around the airport terminal, I make it to Pena, then 1-70. But, I don’t take the unmarked Colfax St. Exit – although earlier signs said I was approaching.
So, basically, after a few turnarounds, and a VERY long foray down Colfax (a dingy-looking street of strip malls, small shops & drive-thrus… I FINALLY make it to my hotel – about 2 hours after my plane landed.)
I check in and unload, pee & email mom – whose reply admits she’s been getting worried. Bonus. sigh.
I try to call Tim again.
So, as I log into my email, account, I’m also on Facebook.
I see a message – but not from him.
I try typing his name in the search box, but it doesn’t come up.
Ok… I go back to my message screen – his profile pic is still up (a good sign, I think).
A couple of weeks ago, the pic was gone, but the messages were still there. He said he was fixing a ‘non-friend issue’. Ok, that’s viable. I’ve never had stalkers, and as much as I joke about wanting one, I also understand that it’s really not a good situation.
But, I digress.
So, anyway. I try clicking his pic. Waiting….waiting. I try the ‘open in a new tab’ trick. I get a message “page not found”.
I try calling the hospital he was going to yesterday – he’s not in the system. Part of me is not surprised.
Ok – now Paranoid Android’s running overtime. RED ALERT!!! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!! BWOOP, BWOOP!!!!!
I’m kinda tired. Kinda stressed. Kinda over travel for the day.
As a last resort, I “reply all” to the hospital pic that was texted to my phone & ask if anyone has heard from him. The only response I get is “I don’t know you. Please don’t text me.”
Hmmm…maybe I should’ve included my name & the fact that Tim was expecting me. STUPID!!! STUPID!!!
Oh well, hopefully I remember that for the next time I’m desperately trying to get in touch with someone who seems to have had at least 2 avenues of communication obliterated.
Ah yes, mental note.
My very last attempt – an email to his two addresses. Basically an “I’m confused. What’s going on? If this is a game/joke, please tell me now. If you sincerely wanted to meet, please message me back. I have no way to contact you” email.
Pathetic, yet hopeful. It’s my M.O.
Unfortunately, I’m the type who often runs into situations that seem horrible/ascinine at the time – then after I’ve gone through all the negative emotions, rants and vents, insecurity, etc.. I find out there was an actual legitimate reason for the turn of events I’d stressed & lamented over obsessviely.
I can only hope that’s the case this time as well.
I’m VERY picky about who I deign to meet – much less flying over 1700 miles to hang with.
This could set me back – even FURTHER than my antisocial hermit default mode…
Wow, time flies. An hour and a half later. Dinner & 2 glasses of wine gone. I’m working on a whiskey & “Irish Appletini.”
Oh – and it’s the START OF MY VACATION!!!
Lucky for me, I’ll only have to stummble across the street (Did I mention I’m in a semi-dodgy hood?)… If I leave within the next hour, it should still be light out! I dounno about Denver, but I hear in general the freaks come out at night.
Sheets to the wind + freak-fest = a high probability of disaster and a 48% chance of a police report… Though.. never been on the assailant side of that docket (I have been a ‘victim’ of a lost wallet and a stolen car radio, however).
Dear Bob, can I JUST ONCE have a stress-free vaca full of friends, fun & sun – INSTEAD of stress, draining days, tipsy typing & writing? PLEASE?
What in the hell are these karma points being redeemed for anyway? NOT getting rear-ended by road ragers? Finding that penny in the parking lot? F’ing waste of my good thoughts and deeds if you ask me!
I’d planned on stuff I’d bring to the hospital, too. Dammit!!
As much as I hate being stuck in mother/wounded bird mode, part of me needs that. Of course, though the stubborn, fiercely indpendent part of me won’t admit it – part of me needs to be taken care of in that way as well.
But, how can I get to that vuvlnerability if I can’t FUCKING TRUST anyone – even in the general sense?
So, here we are, alone in a pub, writing in the semi-dark. Trying to be informative and endearing – so this very personal and self-reflective piece doesn’t seem as self-pitying and depressing as the situation has the potential to be for me…if I chose to connect to it, of course. Oh, thank Bob for the emotional disconnect switch.
Well, tomorrow I’m off to the zoo & maybe the Natural History Museum. I WILL have fun. I will NOT spend all my dough on booze! I MAY indulge in a spa day!
I’ll probably keep hoping for this meetup.
WHAT?! Of course, that’s going to linger, lurking in the recesses of my cranium. So SUE ME!
Just one drink to go, kids. Then, I’ll go back to the hotel, check my email, and sadly see if there are some NCIS reruns playing.
AW YEAH!! I’m living it up in MILE HIGH!!! SOMEBODY STOP ME!!! No really – I mean it. I’ve got one martini to go before my uvula implodes. And my tummy’s turning topsy turvy.
DAMN MY COMPULSIVE ORDERING!!!
Yeah, don’t think I can go any further. 2 glasses of wine, a whisky, dinner & a couple of sips of the specialtini… Vomiting’s really not on my “To Do” list.
Distracted Note to Self: Find the Shake weight commercial online & post for its autoerotic overtones. It’s like a penis doing all the work!
You win this time martini. But, at least I got a few good sips in! Yes, I had it taken away by waiter Scott. One of my fave names and cute to boot! Maybe my day is ending better than it began/progressed.
NCIS, here I come!
SIDE NOTE: East coast, West coast, Mid-west – we ALL look the same, dress in the same varieties. It’s only our accents and colloquisims that change. Oh, and our general attitude, I suppose. Though, really it does average out, doesn’t it? It’s not lke all New Englanders are pricks [I’d like to think I’m not. And, not all Californians act like hippy Dead-heads or super-entitled Divas (Divos?) What IS the male equivalent?!?]
Damn, that may just haunt me.
Haha – at least my bill (with tip) came up to the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. Perhaps things ARE looking up!!!
[End of bar writing…can we see where I started to go downhill?] Haha.. no? That IS a problem!!!
Still no word, but I’m going to do the zoo!!! Hey, it’s in the city, and I leave plenty of texts and open invites to contact and/or join me. At this point, I figure maybe he’s still in the hospital, maybe just resting. And, when he can, he’ll contact me. Besides, you don’t always have your cell with you, right?
Wow, this zoo is AMAZING!!! I end up meeting a fellow photographer in their ginormous bird building. She gives me some pointers & cool places to shoot (I LOVE that my camera is often enough for strangers to strike up conversations with me. Bob knows I don’t have the balls to do it myself). Oddly, the pics she takes of me are blurry, which is too bad, because they are with the bird who claims my backpack as its own…and tries to eat it. Hmm… Guess she relies a bit too much on auto-focus (which I usually have turned off). I tell her I think Roger Williams is about the same size… until I realize later it has taken me 8 hours to see MOST of Denver’s zoo. So much for my skewed sense of proportion! The habitats are more animal-friendly and they actually have an exhibit that rotates which animals are in it! And, it’s a very photo-friendly place with lots of high view-points where cages and reflective glass don’t interfere with your shots!!! I am really awed and amazed by this well-thought-out zoo. I don’t get a chance to see it all, but the 5000+ pics I take tell me I’ve seen a lot!
I’m so glad I went there – it really was one of the highlights of an otherwise not-so-ideal trip. Of course, I worried about my friend and wondered what he was up to… but, there was enough sensory distraction that at least I could enjoy where I was for moments.
Sometime during the day, I FINALLY hear from Tim. It’s worse than I thought – he’s had a spinal tap, tests out the wazoo, and they STILL don’t know what’s wrong with him! And, as far as his phone – the memory stuff he’d been dealing with INCLUDED him forgetting to pay his bill. Since I get the message from his original number, this all seems legit. Hell, I’m just relieved he’s alive. But, the bad news – they’re going to do a test for an anuyerism. SHIT! Of course, the Self-Hate Fairy comes flitting about. “You’ve been selfishly thinking of yourself, and your feelings, when this guy could be DYING! That’s right, go get another whiskey, you egocentric loser!”
To make matters better and worse, Tim is adamant he wants to meet me and just have some fun. The hospital/testing experiences have him freaked out, & he’s looking forward to the chance to chill and hang with yours truly! Of course, there are mixed feelings on my end. I don’t want him to die on me, or get seriously ill, but HELL YEAH!!!! I want to be wanted, desired, loved….hell, even ‘tolerated in person’ would be ok with me right now. But, again, I don’t want to be the ruin of another life!
So, we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Supposedly another test for him, but he’s also in a hospital in another town (one, by the way, that I wanted to visit)… so I’ll leave him be, and just be thankful he’s ok.
Slightly relieved, and tired after a long day trekking through the jungle and desert (habitats), tis time again to retire. G’night all.
Ok, I’ve heard from my guy. It’s again a waiting game, but at least his phone’s back on, although probably off since he has scary tests to look forward to today. Ok, it’s not ideal, but it’s at least a half-step up from where I was yesterday.
In the meantime, I decide to visit another place on my “Must-see” list – the Denver Botanical Gardens. Yay!!! Another photo orgy!
I love, love, LOVE taking nature photos – insects in & around flowers are among my most favorite. Upon entering this garden of awesomeness, I am immediately taken by the various landscapes that call out to me. After a quick stop at the water wall, I remove myself to the Sensory Garden. What wonders I behold!!! Objects that beg to be touched, seen, smelled!!! The juxtaposition of smooth ladybug on delightfully fuzzy “lamb’s ear” plants, the popping purples, spiny & spiky wonders. And, of course, the bed frame indicating a ‘flower bed’. I am delighted with the eyes of a child, discovering the new and ever-present beauty that nature possesses and bequeaths. And, I’m only in the FIRST SECTION!
Beauty and buzzing surround me. I’m transported from different vistas and their native flora within paces. There are lady bugs, caterpillars, bumblebees, and all sorts of other happy insects. Flowers, vines, thorns and gorgeous greenery abound. The textures and tones tangle to tantalizing temptation. And, yes, I attempt to photograph it all.
Within the wooden walls, I once again hear from my frail friend. We WILL be meeting sometime today. He is checking himself out of the hospital, doctors and tests be DAMNED! I am happy, concerned, relieved and terrified all at the same time.
I continue on my aesthetic odyssey, and look forward to finally meeting my Ohio to Denver transplant. Finally, I am breathing again. All is ok…. well – getting there.
After getting my fill of beauty and serenity, I leave the gardens, grab some lunch, and head back to my hotel. The rest of the day passes, and I eagerly await the next message from Tim. Awaiting… Awaiting… He finally sends a message late afternoon that he’ll be checking out soon, and will have someone drive him back to Denver (at this point, I didn’t realize he was at a hospital an hour away). Ok, I could use some rest time. Hooray for naps! A few hours later, I get the message he’s heading back, and needs to wash the hospital off him, etc. Ugh to more waiting… But, I guess it’s shower time for me!! I descrubify and get ready, makeup and all. And, now…back to waiting…
Seriously, does he spend more time primping than a woman? What the hell? Did he fall asleep? I text him again (by this time, night has fallen, and I’m gettijng antsy). Turns out, while he was in the shower, his friends took the car (with his wallet in it). WHO CARES! I HAVE A CAR AND CREDIT CARDS!!!! But, I wait. There’s an awesome Blink 182 song about the girl who kept him waiting…but at least they’re together!!!
In the meantime, I send a very disappointed-looking dressed-up pic to him. He sends something back, but my phone is too primitive to actually display it. I’m tired, cranky, and just want to meet this guy I took the chance of flying across country to meet. Is that too much to ask?!?
Close to midnight, I FINALLY get another text that he is on his way. Great. I’m way past the point of excited anticipation and nervousness. I’m ready to just sleep and see what tomorrow may bring.
But, the non-bitchy side of me realizes he fucking CHECKED HIMSELF OUT OF THE HOSPITAL, drove an hour back, and risked his life & safety just to meet me.
Yeah, ok…that should say something. FINE!!! I’ll wait some more.
FINALLY!!! I get a text he’s in the parking lot!!!!! I walk outside and lap around half the building before I see a lone figure striding toward me (we’re on the phone at the time). A smile, a hug, and (almost) all is good. He was dressed in a t-shirt, khakis, and thong sandals (which I thought was comfortably awesome…or is that ‘awesomely comfortable’?)! He actually had to change his pants because he dropped a bottle of wine on the ground before coming to meet me. Apparently there is more vino in the car, but I decline a ‘pregame’ invite.
What a wild and crazy ride!!!
I resist the urge to pounce on all the frustration, confusion and overall bad mojo I’ve been sinking in over the last few days/weeks.
Thanks – it took a lot of effort!
He drives, and after a quick trip to a gas station, we’re off!! He’s still relatively new to Denver, so a little unsure where to aim for. But, it’s ok, we’re together (finally), and I find a sense of calm…
Until he pulls into a one-way street…going the wrong way.
Oh, what a short-lived respite.
He rights himself, and continues on.
Ooh – a strip club! We pass to my ribbing remarks..
Oh, SHIT – we’re on the wrong side of the street AGAIN!!!
I force him to pull into a parking lot & turn inquisitor. Was it only a small couple of sips you had of vino before coming to pick me up? Are you really ok? You ARE scaring me.
He’s noticeably distressed. I back off, and try to reassure him.
Look, honestly, disasters are what I face every fucking time I try to make plans. It’s ok, really.
Hate to say it – but that’s the honest truth. Yet ANOTHER reason I rarely go out/make plans. (are we compiling a list yet?). They ALWAYS. I mean A.L.W.A.Y.S. go horribly awry. Amok even! We sit in the parking lot for a few minutes and take the opportunity to center and calm down. When he seems better, we pick a plan b. Ironically, the place across the street from my hotel is open till 2am. So…we drive back & park in my hotel parking lot.
Ah, sweet cyclical misadventure, I have missed you.
He admits to having hypoglycemia – just one of many possible reasons for his one-way street shenanigans. HOLY FUCK!!! I’m DIABETIC!! I’d totally understand that shit! Of course, I have a juicebox with me, which I make him drink.
“Are there any OTHER medical issues I should know about?!?!” He admits to high blood pressure.
Ok… transparency! JEEZ LOUISE – it’s the kind of shit I need to know! ESPECIALLY for someone who’s just been HOSPITALIZED!!! I make him promise to let me know anything else important! Literally, his life could be in my hands, and in this case ignorance is NOT bliss!
Mollified, I allow him to escort me to the Snug Irish Pub. It’s after midnight, not crowded, and we get a table right away.
Kids, it’s been a LONG night, and we’re not exactly off on the best foot. So, yeah, it starts a little awkwardly. We each get a drink, and try to salvage the date.
It takes me a bit to loosen up – hell, I’m fucking WORRIED about this guy, and TERRIFIED something is going to happen while we’re together. Is the beer a good idea? Will it interfere with his meds? (he’s been on opiates after his awful – but necessary – spinal tap). He assures me he didn’t take a pain med that afternoon & all is good.
After a while, he actually manages to get me to laugh. The worry subsides & we can interact sociably. I let him take my hand (old friends, you will know that’s kind of a big deal for me). We chat, sip our drinks, and overall enjoy each other’s company.
And, then it’s last call. Probably less than 2 hours of interaction after over a month’s anticipation. :o(
He walks me across the street to my hotel, but I’m not ready for the night/morning to be over. So, yeah – I invite him up.
He hadn’t seen any of my videos, so that’s a fun activity (sure, probably a little self-serving, but whatever, it’s all I got!).
Shoes off, laptop on, I settle in a bit.
ENGAGING FULL CUDDLE MODE!!! Lying together, my head and hand on his chest, eyes closed – I embrace it all.
AT LAST – the very moment I looked forward to. Quiet togetherness – background noise from the video aside. A deep breath, mayhap a sigh, and I feel comfortable and secure. All is well with the world. We watch a few of my characters, their silly presences just a light note to an otherwise ethereal calm.
And, then, a kiss. One simple lip lock, a wanting, a need, an unspoken consent to a magnificently mingling meld of body and mind.
We progress pretty rapidly to some heavy petting. DAMN, IT’S BEEN A WHILE!! Passion encourages tentative touch to torrid torrents.
And, then, I notice he’s having trouble breathing.
Turns out he has asthma – aggravated by the elevation’s thin air.
ASTHMA?!? Ok, so here’s another one for the list. Seriously, is he competing with me for Health Issue Supremacy???
Hell, I’m willing to call it a draw – JUST BE OKAY!!!
So, I decide to be silly & just obnoxiously lick the side of his face. How was I supposed to know that was a turn-on?
Breath steadies, we each take bathroom breaks, and (about 3 or 4am), it’s time for him to go home. He needed to return his friend’s car and not risk a ticket or tow. I understood, but still a little sad at the parting. He asked when I’d want to leave in the morning (ironically, I’d put off visiting the very area he’d just come from, but because of his back pain, I decided against hiking & compromised to a tour of “LoDo” – a cool, eclectic Denver neighborhood). Ideally, I’d want to leave as early as possible, but sure as hellfire wasn’t going to deprive him of rest! So, we settled on a 10am time for him to be ready & we’d explore his home city. A kiss goodnight, and he headed home – I went to sleep.
If only I had known it was the last time I’d see him in person..
(hey, at least you got the foreshadowing – I got diddley!!!)…
Ah, beautiful Denver, I have found your delicious delight. I awake to a fresh start, and am willing to put aside the strain of my introduction to this trip. I get ready and anxiously await 10:00.
Around 10:30 or so, I text Tim. It was a long night, and oversleeping was definitely a possibility. That’s ok – I was able to meet the man behind the messages. Everything is ok!
I decide to check out one of the nearby Whole Foods, and pick up some snacks and water (it is SERIOUSLY dehydrating up here!). I take some pics surreptitiously around the store, trying not to get kicked out as a shady character. Seriously ALL the stores I’ve been to are set up differently! Supplies gathered, I head back to the hotel, glad to be ahead of the game.
11:30 am – still no word.
Ok – well, I’m not going to waste the day in my hotel room. It’s bad enough I missed out on one cool day trip…and other opportunities we’d put on our ‘to-do-list.. So, I start walking – first to the capitol, then make my way toward the 16th Street mall.
I have my cell phone on me, and I’m still in the city, so we’re all good.
I have to try to remember to get back to the capitol before sunset – I’ve read there’s a beautiful mountain view!
I walk downtown, camera at the ready, and gear bag slung across my shoulders. I’m used to traveling by myself, so this is nothing new… of course, the fact that someone was supposed to be experiencing this with me… well, that stings a little.
But, I’m a trouper, and journey on.
I make it to 16th Street in good time, and take a couple of moments to take in the crowd, buildings and general vibe, as I continue down this pedestrian-friendly uber-mall. There are actually public transport units designed just to get you from one part of the street to another – that’s how freakin’ long the street is!
Damn, maybe I should’ve taken up that option. It’s kind of warm, the crowds are dense in parts, and, well, I’m getting anxious again.
Thank goodness for the silly art, serious fur-protesters [one carrying a sign that reads “Fur = Anal Electrocution” (for the animal or the buyer???)], planes trailing marijuana-endorsing signs, and people in random costumes. These distractions manage to take my mind off of worrying/wondering for brief blinks.
I continue down the street till I reach its end, and find a wharf. There are authority-types about, so I don’t attempt to go much further. I loop around, and find an alternate route back to the city proper.
On the way, I find this really cool area – a park, where this guy is kayaking against a man-made river. I think it’s affiliated with a sporting-goods store. But, either way, cool! I take a break here, and take some pics.
(and, of course, check my cell phone. Nothing).
There are some cool photo ops along the way as I make my way back toward my hotel. And, finally, when I’m within 10 minutes of that destination, I get a text. It is almost 2:30 in the afternoon.
“I just woke up. I was throwing up until 6am – going to the doctors.”
My heart jumped to my throat. Was this my fault? Should I have let him get the beer? Result of ‘activities’? Too excitable? IS HE GOING TO BE OKAY?!?
I ask when he’s going & where…wondering if I’d be able to join. He was leaving before I’d be back to my center of operations. He assured me he’d talk to me after he talked to the doctor.
Yep, we’ve heard this before.
So, anxiety, stress, and tears on standby, I trudge back to my hotel…to wait.
sigh, sigh, sigh
A few hours later I hear back – they are going to do that test he skipped out on. He has to turn off his cell phone, but assures me that our plan of eating Rocky Mountain Oysters will be a go when he gets out. I am also anxious, because I’m due to leave Denver the next day. It was actually supposed to be our getaway to Glenwood Springs. I bought tickets to a concert/festival that I was really looking forward to seeing. And, knowing my legacy, this snag does not bode well.
There is no more word that night.
Happy April Fool’s Day, everyone. I sure feel dressed for the part.
Ok – now I’m…well, I don’t know. I got a reaction, but definitely NOT what I’d expect. That is all I can say.
So, we now round out MY DENVER EXPERIENCE.
Part 3: HOMEWARD BOUND
It’s early morning, and I’m packed and ready to leave.
This super duper hotel offers not only their fantastic boozing experience, but a potential hangover help as well! (Thank goodness I’m not actually hung over, though it’s definitely a possibility when one tries to swallow their stress and anxiety). A complementary made-to-order pancake breakfast is DEFINITELY welcome, Embassy Suites! Thank you, very much!!! A hearty breakfast, though not necessarily tummy-friendly at this point, is probably a good idea.
I eat, return to my room for my OCD corner-checks for my belongings, and pack up the car. I’m gassed up, tickets and ID are accessible & I have my trusty directions.
But, I’m not ready to go. Seriously. I don’t know if my friend has had his surgery, if it was successful, if he’s alive.
I feel sick.
But, I can’t stay for someone who may not want me there, and without any word otherwise, I may just be wasting more time and money. And, who knows, I may never hear from him again.
I feel sicker.
But, I’ve got my tickets and confirmed my flight, so off I go, of course making sure my cell phone is on vibrate and loud settings.
I need to drop off my car first. I didn’t know what to do with the 2 gallons of water I had in the trunk. I’d bought them in case we went to Pike’s Peak, and, honestly, should have been drinking them throughout my trip. I figure that I could be put on a terrorist alert if I left them in the car when I turned it in. So, along with my suitcase & bulging backpack, I schlep both gallons on the shuttle to the airport.
Lest it be a complete waste of money, I start chugging from one of them. This hydration seriously would’ve been helpful when I was acclimating to the weather. Even as I’m dousing myself, I realize that this is NOT a good idea just before I board a flight. But, dammit, I started, so compulsion takes over.
Of course, I’m the last stop, so I get through a helluva lot of the gallon. When I disembark, I leave the bottles on a trash receptical & head on in. Southwest checkin is easy, as usual. Now, to head to security. Again, it’s a relatively early flight on a weekday, so I don’t really expect too many problems.
I get on the escalator, ready to descend to the security queue. During the journey, the last remaining button on my stylish winter coat decides it’s had enough of my nonsense, and randomly pops off. It takes a tumble down the escalator, to the curiousity of the travelers in front of me. Finally landing at the bottom of the conveyor, it waits patiently for me to alight and surreptitiously reach down to pick it up. Yes, I’m completely cool & nonchalant…and thankful my coat doesn’t decide to catch in the damned belt!
The line is really building up, and I’m glad I always get to the airport early. I’m wearing extra layers since my bag won’t fit any more crap. And, it’s a waiting game, shuffle, shuffle toward the front of the line. It’s one of those situations where you rue choosing the line you’re in, as you see people who were behind you on pass on their jolly way. I’m in my pjs – and a few fellow travelers admit jealousy of my comfortable attire. See mom – there’s no need for shame at my fashion choices!!! Of course, I don’t admit that I’m sweating like a marathon runner. Gross. But true.
FINALLY, I get to the belongings conveyor belt – just one step away from the metal detector. I need so many damned trays for my crap – coat, sweatshirt, sneakers, laptop, backpack….ridiculous! I also usually forewarn that I’m carrying insulin and needles. The facilitator asks if I have any juice or water – of course not – they’re not allowed (thank you stupid terrorists!). Actually, he informs me that diabetics ARE allowed to have liquids because of the condition. Whoo-hoo! Fun fact, mental note for next time. Hooray for the diabeetus!
I’m ready, just get me through the detector. Shuffle, shuffle. Stop. STOP!?! I’m being taken aside. The guy at the station is calling for a female associate. WTF?!?
I’m standing to the side, waiting for the woman to get to me. What’s going on, am I being flagged for wearing pajama bottoms? Was it my 65 bins? Is this random?
Nope – the guy happened to notice my insulin pump. The woman swabs my pump & my hands for explosives. Nopers, I’m not kidding. Apparently we get a pass if we have consumable liquids, no problem, ma’am. But, apparently the teeny bit of insulin that fits in a reservoir is suspect!
Damn you, diabeetus!
Bemused with an extra helping of stress, I continue on to my gate. And, now it’s time for the waiting game till my flight. I keep checking my phone & trying to figure out how to connect with the damned airport internet. I seem to not grasp this concept, though there are quite a few around me happily tip-tapping away at their laptops.
Flight boards, and we make the puddle jump to Chicago. I’m SO CLOSE to being home. Just one more flight and a short drive, and I can just crawl into bed. I don’t want to think any more, I don’t want to wonder, worry, or have the fight or flight readiness to react if and when I hear from Mr. MIA. I just want to be home, and everything to be ok. That’s not too much to ask, right?
So, let me see where my connecting flight is gated. Providence #113…delayed.
You have GOT to be shitting me. No, seriously, where the hell is Candid Camera? ASHTON, I’m NOT signing a release waiver! Delayed how long?!? WHAT TIME WILL I FINALLY BE OUT OF THIS NIGHTMARE?!?
The flight gets tentative board times twice. There was a plane availability issue, then a gas, or maybe it was needing to be cleaned. Whatever the drama, I feel like crap, surrounded by grumbling passengers who are all just agitating the atmosphere. Between bathroom breaks, stretching, and semi-rude people saving seats – while having their bags on others – I’m definitely feeling cagey. Let’s get this show on the road!
Finally, I decide to get some food. Ooh! This restaurant has a local favorite. What? You sold out of it? Seriously? Wait, no, that’s par for the course. I move on to another place. Ooh, shrimp skewers. Oh, you’re not sure you have any left? I’ll wait.
Oh, good, you have some & are cooking them up. I’ll wait. And wait… And, hell, why don’t I wait some more, as EVERY OTHER customer gets their stuff & moves along.
Finally, food in hand, I head back to the gate. Oh, wait, you’ve changed it since I went on my food excursion? I won’t actually realize this till later – and luckily it was right next to where I was sitting before.
I plop on the floor and give my body some sustenance. I feel a little better, but the wrap-up of this hellish trip is definitely battling whatever good feelings comfort food would normally provide.
I call home, explaining the situation. I am a wreck. Completely and utterly exhausted, and pretty near a breaking point. I tell my mom I’d love to have my favorite adult slushie waiting for me when I got home. She says she wouldn’t know how to make it, but finally agrees to go out and buy the necessary booze.
Yeah, I’m not in a good place.
At last, everything is ready and we board. Apologies from the captain and crew are small comfort. But, we’re boarded, and lift off. Actually, with a strong tail wind, we’ll make it home in good time. For fear I’d be mixing up this flight with another, I’ll just have to assume for the most part it passed without incident. We land in Providence, and after the obligatory pee break, I call my dad to get me & head to the carousel and get my bag.
I wait on the curb, and watch every other person get picked up. I’m so not in the mood to wait, and the spiral I’ve been trying to avoid starts catching up again.
Finally, I see the familiar red truck and am relieved for a moment. Ending the trip with abandonment & rejection issues should NOT have continued this far.
I get home, unload, and am thankful to see the bottles on the table. I may have made myself a small drink, or just headed up to bed. At this point I can’t remember. Either way, I collapsed….after checking my phone and internet sites one last time.
G’night John Boy.
Ah, morning. I’m thankful I took extra days off before returning to work. OF COURSE the personal time authorization I’d put in my boss’s box did NOT make it to payroll. So, my pay will be delayed a week.
I spend the next few days on and off the internet (which, as we all know is my norm). Friends ask if there is any word – a few had been following my saga and wanted to know if things were ok. But, of course, there’s nothing to report, just my growing anxiety and guilt.
Yes, I said guilt.
Over the course of a week, all these thoughts cascade through my head.
Is he ok? Alive?
Is this about me? A convenient excuse to just ignore me? Could he just not deal with me, or not know how to say he just wasn’t interested?
Why would he admit liking me & basically draw me out to admit the same? Was there interest at one point at all? Was I just a big lonely dope?
He told me things about himself & his life that seemed fantastical (including this whole scenario). Were they real? Was I treated to stories? Am I part of a story for later telling/laughing/shaming?
Should I have put out? Would THAT have made a difference? Or was the make-out session a turnoff in itself?
Should I have stayed? Was there more I could’ve done to try to find him? Should I have called ALL the hospitals in the area? Just shown up at all of them & asked what room he was in?
Did I just completely waste my precious vacation time on a cruel joke? It’s bad enough what I was going through at work, but did bad mojo spill over into my personal life?
WHAT ELSE COULD I HAVE DONE?!?
I was completely engulfed and haunted by these thoughts. Even friends’ suggestions to try to contact his friends (of which I only had the hospital pic text) was a terrifying idea. I DIDN’T want to have to hear about his status from anyone other than him – in my mind that meant ONLY bad news. If he wasn’t able/well enough to let me know he was ok, then he must not have been. Right? Either that, or it was a purposeful silence, and this was just about me personally. It was a slap in the face, stab in the gut rejection.
I really didn’t want to deal with either scenario.
Ok, fine – I didn’t want to deal with ANY scenario. But, eventually, something’s got to give, and whoa Nelly! when it does, there’s no stopping the torrent.
It was probably Friday or Saturday, and the last word I’d gotten was Tuesday – saying surgery in the cranium was necessary. Ugh, that still turns my stomach. I was literally in knots all week – hell, for a week and a half. Not hungry, not sleeping well, worried, anxious, confused, suspicious, most likely sugars to shit – but I didn’t care. I just wanted to know what the hell was going on!
I went downstairs, and prepared to make myself a slushie. Equal parts Midori & Triple Sec, with lots of ice. Mom has been worried about me all week in general, but for the most part has held her tongue. However, she can’t resist this one. I try to explain I’m not sliding down a slippery slope, that I’m only having like one drink a day. She points out that my ‘one drink’ has the equivalent of 3!! I know she’s right & she has every right to be scared and concerned for my welfare – she’s been a sober alcoholic for more than 2 decades. But, she’s BEEN THERE.
I state that it’s not the time – meaning, her lecture, my not drinking, etc. She gives a bitter laugh, and that stings more than anything. I know I’m not completely in the abyss, but she could be right about me being close. But, I just can’t deal with it. I don’t WANT to deal with it.
I get myself more ice, tears already streaming down my face. I’m lost, or losing, and I know I’m not going down a healthy or helpful path. I don’t have the energy to claw myself out, and my head is a swirl of what-ifs, whys, why me, what should I do’s. And on top of all the emotions I went through just getting to Denver, and the rollercoaster of being there with no idea what was really going on – I am now stricken with unintentionally hurting someone who really loves me and is probably empathizing far more than I can fathom with what I’m going through at this moment. At least with Tim, I didn’t KNOW, didn’t SEE, and could only IMAGINE what he may be going through. Sitting in the same room, living in the same house, hearing my own words and thoughts, and concerns, and questions, seeing the distress, distraught and dismay on my face, well my parents aren’t nearly so fortunate.
I really suck. On all fronts. Maybe I deserve all this.
I dump the ice in the blender, and go to the sink to refill the tray. I barely start to stretch my hand to the tap when I finally break. What starts as sobbing, quickly progresses to hyperventilating. Turned toward the sink, I feel my mom’s arms around me as the full-on panic attack begins. (Hot damn, I’m crying writing this). She tries to get my arms up, calm me down, but I’m finding it really hard to breathe. Can’t get a full breath, can’t calm down. Can’t stop thinking, can’t stop crying.
Days and days of… well… EVERYTHING swirl back with a full force impact. Every emotion I’ve felt, overanalyzed, ignored, or just ‘dealt with’ attacks with renewed vigor. Every question, every insecurity, every thought that I did something WRONG, didn’t do ENOUGH, just DIDN’T….
It all comes back for one last fuck you, fuck your life, and, oh, yeah – Sanity – fuck you.
And hell yeah, it’s stronger than me.
Finally after what feels like several minutes of body-wracking emotional vomiting, I slowly begin to calm down enough to sit down. Mom’s comforting words make me feel better and worse all at the same time. She asks really what else could I have done – I wheeze/sob/cry out that there must have been SOMETHING. And, many of the ideas and fears I’ve had are finally voiced…out loud…where they have more power than secrets in one’s head.
She reemphasizes the idea of trying to contact his friends. I really don’t want to, but if I don’t get any resolution I fear I will implode. I grab my drink and head upstairs to my sheltering, comforting bed.
So, full circle to my arrival – I text everyone who received the “Tim’s in the hospital” pic. I’m more clear about who I am, and that I just want to know if he’s ok, if anyone’s heard from him. I hit send, completely overcome with exhaustion and filled with trepidation. Last time I sent word all I got was a ‘please don’t contact me’ reply. This time I fear much worse.
Waiting game, my old friend, undeserved we meet again.
I don’t really have long to wait. My phone buzzes shortly after I send the message. I can’t put off possibly knowing, so I immediately open the text (ok, fine, I took a few deep breaths first).
The message reassures me that he’s ok, I can stop worrying.
My breathing quickens at this good news. I’m immensely relieved, and for the moment I let that feeling overtake me.
But, my cyclone mind doesn’t let that last long.
I send a thank you text to this respondent with my deepest appreciations. Honestly, I am amazed and grateful that a perfect stranger took the time out to ease my weary mind.
But, it’s not enough information.
I ask his name – which I program in my phone with the addendum “Tim’s Friend”, and try not to be a pest as I attempt to get more information.
He can’t speak to Tim’s state of mind, but lets me know that he is doing ok, hasn’t actually had the surgery yet, and isn’t in the hospital at the moment. I again thank this sanity savior, and respond that I suppose if Tim wants to contact me he will. Friend sympathizes with me, and wishes me luck. I won’t bother him anymore, as he really has gone above and beyond. And, if you happen to come across this in cyberland somehow, I thank you again.
I go downstairs to share this latest development, then trudge back up. It’s been a long f’ing journey – and it’s not quite over yet.
Almost immediately after the initial relief wears off, I’m deluged with every other emotion that’s been on standby. Foremost is confusion, doubt, and, making a grand come-back, my old ally anger. I like anger – you can’t have two pure emotions directing you at once, and it immediately quells the abyss of depression. And, you know what – I PREFER anger to depression or sadness. Anger is a stimulus to action, a powerful hand-up from guilt and melancholy.
And, dammit – part of me IS angry!
If he’s ok – why hasn’t he contacted me? Did he FORGET about my existence? Did he just DELETE all my queries and messages IMPLORING him just to let me know he was ok? Was it all one big fucking GAME? Was I played? Flamboozled? Conned?
For fuck’s sake – there’s no reason to con me! I don’t have money, influential friends, access to government secrets! I’m just a gal from the east coast who was looking for a potential match! SOMEONE special in her life who she felt a connection with and wouldn’t just FUCK WITH HER!
Yes, goddammit, I’m FUCKING RIPPED!
Then, that goes away in a heartbeat as I remember all the health stuff could be totally legitimate. He COULD have been having serious issues, illness, and just need the time and space to cope with it.
How selfish of me to just be thinking of my experience in this scenario.
Of course, I don’t KNOW which of the infinitesimal possibilities is true.
And, that’s what’s killing me.
Everyone I’ve talked to about this kit & kaboodle has sympathized, but many have pointed out the very dodgy vibe of the overall shebang. And, quite honestly, I agree. But, I also know that the truth of the world is rarely so black & white. The bad guys don’t always don the dark attire w/mustachios intact, and the good guys don’t all have their white stallions and gleaming smiles. Good guys do bad and bad sometimes do good. Everything in this world is a shade of grey, and no matter how hard you try to squint your eyes, you will never see the whole truth.
So, here I remain, in the realm of confusion, doubt, self-doubt, angst and anger. There is no one to take it out on, and no one to mollify me.
I figured writing this out would be cathartic, maybe eye-opening. At the very least, a way for someone else to pass the time, and possibly get a glimpse into my world. When I first thought of publishing, I knew I would end with more wonder. I’d planned to open my profile to the public & send Tim an e-mail, inviting him to view my experience – and everything that went along with it, without having to actually re-friend me or pretend to establish any connection if it didn’t exist. Would he respond? Bother to read it? Send comfort and (eternal optimistic I am), possibly a reestablishment of friendship? An explanation? His side of the story to fill in the gaping holes, the very blackness that engulfed me for weeks/months? Would anything I wrote really matter? Would it change anything?
Would I ever get any closure?!?
I get this weird procrastination ADD when it comes to creative endeavors – especially ones I’m especially emotionally attached to. It’s now 5 months later, and all the emotions resurface from time to time. I want to believe the best of people, and that circumstances really DO wreak havoc, regardless of their natures and intentions. Writing the 3 (well, 4) parts of this journey has brought everything back – not necessarily in crystal clear detail, but as you can tell from the length of each one, pretty damned near-perfect recall. I don’t forget much; it’s a blessing and a curse. I have not made up any bit of this narrative, as difficult as it may seem to believe – this is exactly what I went through, and, good and bad, it was all my actual (mis)adventure.
As planned, I did open my profile and send that email after I’d sent parts 2a & b, as I found Tim was back on facebook. Will he actually read, understand, process, respect, and respond to what I wrote? Maybe, maybe not. I did receive a response this morning, which included an attempt at intimidation for sharing my story. Luckily I rarely delete messages, which I will now be sure to keep in case legal matters are necessary. I can only believe he has NOT read the actual blogs since there was nothing but my side of the experience and all the questions, emotions, and benefit of the doubt I gave him within.
I continue to give the benefit of doubt that misunderstandings occurred (and continue to occur), and that situations shifted sense & perspective. But, regardless of what the reality is, that may in fact be the only closure I get, and I have to be ok with that.
***Update – since, apparently there was a girlfriend in the picture (who contacted me AFTER READING MY POST) – at the very least he was a douchebag attempting to fool around on his girlfriend. Whether the hospital stuff was all BS (remember – I have pictures), I may never know. But, we can see why he tried to bully me into retracting my story w/threat of litigation.*****
It REALLY would’ve been nice to have one of the OTHER possible endings to this story.
But, as always, it is what it is & I am left to deal with it.
And, with that, we end this chapter. I hope for a more positive resolution, but even that glimmer is fading.
On the bright side, I got through my story & you came along for the ride.
As always, thanks for reading!!!