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2002-07-17 - 2:41 p.m.

Boulder, Colorado is a strange place. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think I might like it better if I were a dog, or a baby. There were a lot of dogs and babies in this town. And bicycles. And sporting goods stores. And mountains. And money. Who knew Boulder had so much money? Even the hippies looked like they're well off, and you can't help but think that they receive some sort of stipend in order to stick around, just to give the place some character. Boulder seems decidedly lacking in character.

I went to Boulder to attend a wedding of an old roommate, Suzy. I haven't seen Suzy in six years, and we only exchange the odd email, barely keeping up with the events in our lives. I was at a wedding like this in October in Atlanta. Another old college friend, another person whose life seems so far removed from mine that I can barely remember we were once friends. It’s important for me to go to these things, but it’s always slightly awkward, and you have to refrain from asking the big questions. So, are you happy? What’s it like being a mother? And how’s that whole law school thing working out? Instead, we talk about Boulder, and about the wedding, and about how happy she is that I came out, and how happy I was to be invited. I was happy to be invited. No one ever really needs a good excuse to leave Austin in the middle of summertime.

I spent a lot of time by myself in Boulder. I'd like to think that travelling alone would be some sort of transcendent experience, one in which I would really get to know myself. Instead, I just got bored and lonely. There's no one to help navigate (although I was fairly self sufficient in that area, and didn’t get lost once). And when you're the only one driving, looking out the window at all the beautiful scenery is not only difficult, but potentially life threatening.

So I went to the Fourth of July picnic by myself (everyone was hot and tired and ready to leave when I got there – I waited to be adopted by one of the coupled people there, maybe taken out to dinner, and later find some fireworks to watch, but everyone went their separate ways, and I left alone). I found downtown Boulder by myself, and ate dinner at a mostly empty Indian restaurant by myself, and later found myself at the University of Colorado stadium to watch the Fourth of July light show, also by myself. The light show was a poor substitute for fireworks, but I did hear the 1812 Overture. I found the Celestial Seasonings plant by myself (although I had to ask for directions), and went on a tour. The Mint Room is filled to the ceiling with peppermint and spearmint wrapped tight in burlap bags. Less than two seconds in the Mint Room, my eyes were watering and my sinuses were cleared out. I found the Eldorado Canyon by myself, and ate a salad on the banks of the springs, and hiked as far as my fake Birkenstocks would let me. I watched rock climbers scale the cliffs of the canyon as I dipped my feet into the cold springs, and I wondered how much patience that must entail, working your way up that sheer wall inch by inch.

I went to the wedding by myself, driving my little rental car up the curving roads of Flagstaff Mountain, up to the Sunrise Amphitheatre, which overlooks downtown Boulder. The wedding was beautiful, and intimate, yet not lacking in ceremony – rocks and water were the two big themes. The reception was on campus, and I made my way back down Flagstaff Mountain, stopping at an overlook to look at the view, and to ensure that I wasn’t the first person there. I managed to sit at a table with a group of other twentysomethings from out of town, who were all very nice and gracious and friendly. Keith was there with his girlfriend Stephanie; six years ago, we made out in his bedroom in West Lafayette, Indiana. I wondered if he still has his tongue ring. John has been to Austin for South by Southwest for the past four years, and we name dropped bands and restaurants and bars. I unintentionally got drunk, mostly due to the following factors: social anxiety upon attending wedding alone + mostly empty stomach + free alcohol (white wine, which I normally never drink) + champagne to toast the couple (haven’t I learned by now not to mix my alcohols?) + high altitude. When I mentioned to John that I wanted to drive to Denver after the reception to see Dressy Bessy, he expressed interest, and graciously offered to drive. Seeing Dressy Bessy was the only thing I had found that I really wanted to do – hiking and mountains and exploring and shopping were all well and good, but this was my vacation, damnit, and if I wanted to see one of my favorite indiepop bands in their hometown, then so be it. So John drove me to Denver, and we saw Dressy Bessy, and the whole evening is fairly hazy in my mind, although I’m pretty sure that the lead singer of Dressy Bessy was as drunk as I was; we had quite an interesting exchange in line for the bathroom.

The next day, I was hungover, but after vomiting, napping, and later, huge amounts of caffeine, I recovered enough to browse through a fair amount of bookshops. I ate dinner at a mediocre but highly recommended brewpub, alone, and later went to a movie. I was up early the next day, and had breakfast in a little diner near campus (the closest thing to a dive that I could find in Boulder). I sat next to three beautifully lithe and tanned college co-eds, who couldn’t have been more than twenty years old. Sample bits of their conversation:
“So when you were in France, did you speak much French?”
“Oh, my French wasn’t that good, but when I was in Morocco, I spoke a lot of Spanish.”
“When I was in India, I just wanted to travel around from city to city, because the energy was just so different depending on where you were. You could just feel it flowing around you. But when I was in Africa, I just wanted to stay in the same village the entire time. It was completely different.”
I think I’m beginning to grasp the definition of the word “Trustafarian.”

I spent my last day in Colorado at the Brainerd Lake National Park, where I hiked six miles out to Blue Lake. The colors were so vibrant out there – blue skies and green grass and multicolored flowers and white snow on top of the mountains; even with all the rain, everything’s so muted in Texas. It was beautiful out there, and all of a sudden, Colorado began to make a little more sense to me.

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