Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Purple mountain

Home again, home again.

Always quite a relief in to come in from the planes to find Denver and the mountains sitting out there after some 500 miles of near nothingness.

Every time I've made this drive, whether it be from the east or west, I come into town and have this great feeling of being home again. Some sense of belonging that, while it is always a slightly different homecoming than my remembrances of youth, feels warm and friendly.

This time around, however, I feel I've distanced myself more than before. Seems I've finally been away long enough that, while familiar, Denver does not have quite the same hold on me it once had. Perhaps its due to sticking around Seattle for longer than other places I've lived. Maybe it's just having not lived in Colorado full-time for years. Whatever it is, the place feels more like a place that is simply quite familiar rather than a place that holds my heart.

That said, it has been a good visit. I was, for a couple of days, alone in my parent's house. They had already gone up to the mountains for the holidays, so I had the place to myself. It felt a little odd, as it isn't the place I grew up in where they had lived for years and years. Different creaks and groans, odd noises like people walking. Overall, I think the place is made mostly of concrete, so it makes very little noise, but it makes any noise that you do hear just that much more distinct and noticeable.

I met up with Rachel, a great-good friend of mine from way back in the days of high school, and her fiance Kyle, who I got to know pretty well when we were all living in Tacoma a while back. Rachel and he moved back to Denver a little while back and have settled in nicely, both working from home, which happens to be Rachel's parents place.

Nothing against my parents, but I think I would have a hard time living with them for an extended period of time at this point. Also, having my significant other there would, I think, make it decidedly more difficult. However, they all seem to get along swimmingly and I applaud them for that.

We went for Indian food and then over to Stella's: one of the great coffee shops of my youth. It's filled with memories of high school years when I would go there after school and on weekends, meeting friends and discoursing on a wide range of subjects as my tolerance for caffeine went consistently higher, finally peaking just before heading off to college at somewhere around six shots of espresso per trip.

It has tapered off since then. The stream of high schoolers going through there has not. If anything, it is more crowded than it used to be. But I still appreciate the atmosphere, the decent coffee, and it's ability to foster a decent conversation. We spoke for a time of the past, of the future, possibilities and the conundrum of adulthood, before calling it a night.

The next day, Sunday, I believe, I met up with Rose, the mother of Georgia, an ex girlfriend I still keep in touch with. Rose is great. She's someone I can get together with, a year gap between visits, and it feels like no time has passed at all. Certainly, there's more to catch up on, but we get along remarkably well.

She's also a person with whom a great conversation flows very easily, and I always find myself out to coffee with her, having talked for what feels like a few minutes when in fact a couple of hours have gone by. She thinks broadly on a great deal of subjects and has a way of connecting events together that makes them seem much more surprising, fantastic, and ultimately meaningful than I would otherwise think they are. She mentioned at one point that there might be a teaching position opening at her school, if I were interested. The more I think about it, the more it seems feasible and, perhaps, a fine option. That wouldn't be until the fall, however, so unemployment does still loom loudly.

We met up at her house, and I caught up with her husband, Rob, and other daughter, Lucy for a little bit before heading out to Kaladi's coffee. I worked at Kaladi's one summer and head in every time I'm in town, usually about six months apart. Somehow there's always someone there I remember. Fine people, excellent coffee. The Denver branch spun off from a much larger Anchorage company when one of the owners decided it had gotten too large for his liking, and he struck out to remake the brand smaller in Denver. The one in Seattle is related to the Anchorage shops. They all use an air-roasting method for roasting their coffee, which differs from the drum roasting that most other roasters use. The benefit of air roasting is, apparently, that the bean gets more evenly roasted, all the beans are roasted almost identically, and the temperature can be more easily regulated. It all amounts to pretty decent coffee.

Oh, and I got my LP's out of her basement this trip as well. Had been wondering what happened to those.

Monday I went up to Boulder to meet up with Kevin, a guy who has worked for my Dad for years, to go over the changes he wants for their website. Freelance work Dad threw my way when he found out I was laid off. Thanks Dad.

The factory is just east of the Boulder reservoir, giving it an unobstructed view of the mountains just outside of town. It's quite a beautiful spot to make surgical equipment. They seemed a touch busy in there, and I left before traffic got too bad to come back.

Met up with my brother, saw his place. The management company pays a third of his nominal rent. I imagine it's because they are desperate to rent the places. Not that they are bad, but it's one of those buildings that was made about as cheaply as possible, and a few years have passed, making this remarkably apparent in the sagging floors, cracking walls, and drafty apartments. We both agreed that there ought to be a bit more pride in workmanship, and maybe a little more foresightedness as to the future prospects of a well-built building versus something that involved a bit of palm greasing to be determined a safe structure.

We got sushi, a bit overpriced, at a little place down the way that one of his friend's families used to own. It was Sushi Boat then, and cheap. Now it's sushi train, and spendy. Sushi used to be on little boats in a little canal on the bar. Now its on a model train set on a little track on the bar. Go figure.

It was good to see George. He's settling in, but seems a little bothered. He's not exceedingly fond of his job, the apartment leaves a bit to be desired, and I think he might just be having a little of that mid-20's malaise that comes from expecting yourself to be a competent adult with very little expertise in the field. He'll be alright.

Tuesday I went up into the mountains, a scenic trip up I-70, where I passed a rather good sized herd of bighorn sheep. Wish I'd gotten a picture. Then onto Hwy. 40, up over Berthoud pass, snowpacked and radiant in the sun peaking through the clouds, on through Winter Park, and opening up further down the road. There was a point in there where the road runs along the headwaters of the Colorado river, winding in and out of little valleys, snow covered aspens thickening and thinning out, and the sun shining broadly on the road, river and hills beyond. Quite a drive.
Up into Rabbit Ears Pass the snow started falling pretty heavily, but it was still a pretty swift trip, and nothing befell me.

I am now ensconced in the mountain home of my Father and Step-Mother. It's a large, beautiful place, well decorated, and set in a small valley with a bubbling creek and hiking trail, just off of the Steamboat Springs ski area. They've just gotten done building it, and it is quite impressive. I'll put up some photos later.

And continue posting later. Feeling a touch heavy-eyed at the moment.

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