Dreaming at 12,000 ft

Dense in Dillon

June 24th, 2021

Another morning, another cup of coffee by the mountains.

It’s a lot denser here than the remote, hilly mountains we’ve been driving through. This town is filled with people, shops, homes and nature, crammed into a place called Dillon. It’s been a while since I’ve seen houses twenty feet within each other – it’s been more like twenty acres.

Somehow, le beau managed to find us two Superhost Airbnb’s at the very last minute. Both of these have been lovely in their own way. This condo, in comparison to the tiny house cabin, is spacious and stocked. Its painted-red balcony faces the mountains and highways. It’s cozy, well-decorated, and clean.

Our Airbnb host somehow managed to stock the entire place with every amenity and tool imaginable, from steamer baskets to pasta pans to a water boiler to an air fryer to cotton swabs to a first aid kit to coffee sweetener to a movable fireplace to a black raspberry soda in the fridge. Whose mans is this? I say after every serendipitous discovery. Because he’s about to be ours. We’re taking him with us, and he’s stocking our apartment. Oh, and redecorating it.

Honestly, I dig the Colorado aesthetic. Even the nearby Target is dressed to the cabin-house nines. It’s forever the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s here, where the cabinets are still a warm orange, the dressers cherrywood antique, the wooden panels unpainted, smoothed down. The bricks are faded. The bathtubs old fashioned. And yet, even without all the modern gadgets and gizmos, these antique cabin-styles radiate warmth and comfort.

Aquaphor

This feels like a sleepover. At my best friend’s house. The bed is in the middle of the room, and the lights are warm, soft, traditional. I cranked the window open a little bit because it was getting toasty in the room. It was supposed to be cold outside tonight. But instead of my best friend studying for Chemistry or Biology, it is le beau is watching off-roading videos on Youtube and snarkily asking me, “can I help you?” His lips are glazed in shimmering Aquaphor, because, you know, mountains.

Denver

June 25th, 2021

We drove into Denver.

I can’t stand cities anymore. I can’t. I can’t stand the aching buildings, heavy density, crowded buildings, dusty smells, clogged streets. A few minutes into the city, I remarked that the average demographic was probably late 30’s, fairly traditional – not traditional enough to buy a home in the suburbs and get married at 25, but less adventurous and alternative than the Coloradans roaming Durango in bikes, man-buns and Hawaiian shirts.

Denver, I figured, was another story. The current demographic probably moved here in the heyday of tech-riddled Denver, maybe ten or fifteen years ago. Since then, the city’s slowed down, aged, but the people have stayed amid soaring rent. I joked that Colorado blew its budget maintaining the mountain roads rather than its shining child of a city. Denver was nowhere near as glittery as the tourist images show it to be. It was old and cracked and disappointing.

There’s this incredible density that I associate with the city: human energy shoved and stuffed and stacked together. It just exhausts me nowadays. It’s thickness, emotion, lived experience. It wasn’t nearly as bad as when I stepped by the old mining towns, which harbored clouds of sadness and dread. I took one look at those and left. When we drove out of Denver, I felt relieved to see the mountains again, but also nervousness at being surrounded by cars.

“Look! We should get this shirt for you.”

Breck

June 26th, 2021

It’s rainy and cold and smells like smoke outside. The door is open; the fire is on. I’ve spent hours on the balcony in the frigid cold, criss-crossed with a book.

Le beau is on the phone right now, talking about how there are lots of Filipinos in Colorado.

We went to Breckenridge this afternoon, and it was all a series of serendipitous synchronicity. We had initially been hesitant to venture outside, since there were so many people on Main Street. Right as we found parking, after we went around in circles, it began to rain. And when it started to pour, all the crowds dispersed, as if welcoming our hermit presence.

We drifted into an ice cream shop, but for some reason, I didn’t want any. Then we stopped by a gelato store, and even though I had just said no to the ice cream, I said yes to the gelato. Le beau ordered us a Belgium waffle with cookies and cream gelato, and we ate behind the alleyway, where there were some tables and chairs folded up. Le beau fed us with the tiny blue spoon.

Afterwards, let’s find knick knacks and gifts, he said. I nodded.

Then he looked up. You won’t believe what’s behind you. An open door, displaying T-shirts and mugs and stuffed animals. Tourist gifts. So we polished off our dessert, and went into the store, where there were three Filipinos behind the counter. Apparently there is a big population nearby in Frisco, Colorado.

We then drifted up and down Main Street, drizzly and grey, stopping by two or three more tourist stores. I eventually did get a soft pink Colorado crewneck that I massaged for about ten minutes before le beau went, do you want that? I responded with: it’s 29.99. I nodded very lightly a few minutes later when he asked me a second time.

Then I asked him what he was getting, and through a fluke, he ended up getting a soft navy crewneck.

Is this real life? Or is it just fantasy?

June 27th, 2021

All good things must come to an end. Alas.

Somehow le beau pushed through the whole day on the road, as we cycled from hour to classics playlist to finally a true crime podcast. The clouds were thick and fluffy. Simpson’s. Which side was the Microsoft screensaver? I pointed to his side.

I missed the mountains. I kept reminding myself that life is never not now, and that everything is temporary. I told myself this when my mind began to drift, and I did it to ground myself.

We were hyper, singing to the music, switching between this and comfortable silence. The hours stretched like putty.

What if flies sounded like Louis Armstrong?

We sang off-key to You’re Beautiful, grizzled like flies.

They lost their money in the heyday of corn.

We detoured to pop lock n’ squat.

Thank you for using the tollway. Not even for coming to the state. Just for using the tollway.

We looked for the next and only welcome sign, bewildered at the lack of one.

We were like, can we have some service? And the universe said yes. At a cost. The state.

We played lots of classics. Classics have been light and fitting on the road. Johnny Cash accompanied us for several hours on our first day. Today was our usual musical trail mix. Throughout this trip, there have been uncanny synchronicities in the songs.

Let’s get active, I suggested, go hiking and biking next time. Right as I did, the song YMCA popped up. Earlier, I abruptly went, rain of fire–and it suddenly started to rain. And as we climbed rocks to the summit, every song bleated on about bumps, rocks and heights.

During our 3 PM lunch break at Braum’s, I opened my salad bag and exclaimed–

Cottage cheese? What am I supposed to do with cottage cheese?

Then le beau made fun of me yelling about the–

Cottage cheese?!

In the end, he went inside the Braum’s, where the locale stared at him like some sort of deviant alien as he asked for balsamic vinaigrette instead of cottage cheese.

Then we were back on the road for several more hours. He cranked out hours and miles and I plugged my ears to some heavy beats. I went into a miniature coma as we drifted through long expanse of Simpson’s-esque nothingness.

We finally made our way out and down. Finally! The roads here were awful, but later, there was some semblance of civilization, lights glittering in the distance.

As the sun set, I thought to myself, I have to pee. As if the universe were teasing me, it began to rain, hard.

Put on a true crime podcast, le beau suggested, so I did. I found one that covered recent crimes that have occurred in our area. God, the locale law enforcement is really quite inept.

The whole thing gave us shivers. But the podcast kept us awake, and aware, and mildly paranoid, since we’ve been sharing the same streets with unhinged murderers.

Now we are home, and it’s… not as bad as I remembered. It’s cozy, modern, clean. A little miffed that it smells nicer after we left. And I don’t dislike the big bathroom, with the clean towels and fluffy white linens. I designed our place with a different color scheme in mind–cool greys, whites, blues and pinks. Even so, I feel inspired to add warmer wood accents, maybe antiques.

Somewhat unrelated, but as much as I miss the mountain view, I’m mildly relieved to be away from the corner where I kept envisioning a woman, strict and tall, wearing a bun in Victorian dress, with the small white dog that kept flitting about. It was beginning to annoy me.

I feel like we dreamt it all, and we’ve just begun to wake up.

(6/24-6/27)


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