Deb and I go way back. I met her through Diane, her twin sister, who sat next to me in freshman orientation. After I mistakenly introduced her to the group as Susan from Connecticut who enjoyed modern dance (she was from Southborough and a stranger to the art), we became inseparable, sharing an enthusiasm for Pink Floyd and a substance that occasionally smells like skunk.
Following college, Debbie joined Diane and me for a trip to Cozumel. Despite our rudimentary and Deb’s advanced grooming skills, the three of us got along like a house on fire. You’ll see us below in our evening wear – Debbie’s on the left, Diane in the middle and I’m on the right.
Some years later, Debbie and I rented a bright blue American sedan named Bob that took us down the east coast, across the south and then up to Colorado and back home. We had our roles sorted out by the second night – I set up the tent, then sat in my lounge chair with a beer, a map and Let’s Go while Debbie cooked on our little stove, and as many times a day as felt right, reorganized the trunk of our car. She was once compelled to do so during a tornado warning at a campground outside of Fort Worth that had no shelter for miles. As we survived, it is generally attributed to her foresight and diligence.
Deb’s in California now and has befriended a very nice pilot who has given us buddy passes over the years, prompting bi-coastal visits, heavily favoring me traveling to the west coast, mostly in the winter months. Funny, that. A buddy pass allows the friend or relative of an employee to fly for free if there are seats available, after standbys get on board. Sometimes the routes can be scenic. I once flew from Boston to Nashville to Baltimore to Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Or something like that. But we flew over the Grand Canyon, which was really cool and looked like a big crack in our round plant. which I suppose it is.
I had a sense of urgency this year, whether it was that we hadn’t seen each other in a while, the lull in my work, or the low energy that months of grey weather had brought. Perhaps I should have thought a little harder about spring break and private school vacation, but I didn’t. I was in a hurry to get there, in fact I was hanging on to memories of green and blue that I knew would lift my spirits.
Somewhere between Boston and Denver, I lost the only form of ID I had, my license. Marcel from Southwest in Denver, with an understanding smile, accepted my business card as proof of identity, a kindness I will remember for a very long time. The following morning, on my walk to my favorite coffee haunt, I lost my credit card.
Too quickly it was time to think about returning in time for some commitments in Boston. As my friend the pilot explained the economics of overbooking and probabilities of scoring a seat on a flight that was oversold, I started to understand the challenges returning home would bring. The question of getting back on time was no longer on the table, it became when would I ever get back?
First attempt at ascent from LAX was dashed as I found myself behind 100 high school kids, way too hopped up on Frappuccinos and anticipation. Pleas at more than one gate were met with stony silences, head shakes and that corporate mouth-only smile that does no customers any service.
Not wanting to repeat my return to Santa Monica on the Big Blue Bus (did you know it only costs a dollar and takes under an hour?) on Tuesday, I opted to get to Denver and then wing it, pardon the pun. After 13 hours at DIA, I started to feel like Tom Hanks in The Terminal, developing relationships with the gate attendants and routines such as walking the terminals to keep the stress at bay. You can really cover some distance there and I’m embarrassed to say that I broke the tenth commandment the first time I found myself in Terminal B, which was so much bigger and lighter than it’s poor cousin, Terminal C. And the dining options! If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, I’d go for Pour La France in Terminal B, the Breckenridge Avalanche Seasonal now being poured is an effective balm for frayed travel nerves.
To move to a different terminal, I took an airport train that came to drive me crazy with it’s inane sounds signifying arrival at a station, doors closing, etc. If you don’t believe me, listen in (who thinks to film these things and post them on youtube, I don’t know. But in this particular instance, I thank you).
A friend suggested I stay in Golden, home of the Bud and Breakfast. They had no rooms, so I ended up at a more traditional destination, happy to have a quiet room without loudspeakers announcing flight departures that I wouldn’t be on. The next day was spent with an open mind and a happy heart as I was confident about getting home that night. The light rail into Denver was easy, and while the pedestrian mall I had heard touted held only grockle shops selling wooden eagles and bright pink t shirts, the Denver Art Museum was fabulous, as was the Byers Evans House exhibit of concert posters from the late 1960s.
Home and happy to be with my family, the following night Philip and I stepped out for a movie, deciding to drive the mile as it was miserably cold and rainy. The next day, flights were booked (and paid for) to head back to see Debbie in April with the next generation.