Sunday, March 17, 2013- Colorado Springs to Denver
Time: About 6 pm
Wait: About one hour
Hitch: Guy and girl, early twenties
Profession: RN Nurse and college student (CSU)
The weather today in Colorado Springs has been bi-polar, contrasting from sunny and calm to frigid, rainy and windy— all in one breath. As I stand waiting at Uintah exit for just over an hour, a dark cloud finally glides its way through the sky to my location and cold drops fall onto my skin, the hood of my jacket. The wind begins to blow wildly and howl through the dead high desert trees, and I struggle to keep my carefully crafted re-usable cardboard “Denver” sign from tearing off into the breeze. It is reversible, with “Colorado Springs” on one side, “Denver” on the other.
Some cars pass me by and wave, a business man in a BMW floors it as he passes me by, as if to say “I’m better than you, and I don’t have time”, people drive by and smile with acknowldegement, I smile back. I can’t help but wonder if that old man in the shiny new BMW got his material possessions through exploiting people, based on his attitude, and now that he has reached what he believes to be the top, relishes in his success at ignorance and takes it with him wherever he goes.
The sun is setting behind the mountains, and I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m running out of time. Darkness falls at about 7pm this time of year. I call my brother and tell him to swoop me up in ten minutes if he doesn’t hear from me. I decide that chances are slim I’ll get picked up just before dark, and decide to try hitching to Denver to make my morning classes, although every time I’ve tried morning hitching I’ve always been late to my classes, so this is not an optimal choice.
I’m having a really hard time getting a ride; I could have been Jesus Christ in a white robe with my thumb extended eloquently and the world would have passed me by just the same.
Then suddenly, just as I’m about to give up, like some kind of mechanical angel, in comes a red SUV to the curbside. Inside are a guy and girl in their early twenties, who later introduce themselves as E and Sala.
“We’re going to Denver”, Sala says, as they pull over. “Are you cool with getting some Irish car bombs before though?” Sure!, I tell them. I think that I have really lucked out on meeting this people.
We enjoy in some great conversation, and Sala tells me that her parents are first generation Polish immigrants that came to America. Her family is not as “Americanized” as most, she tells me, and her family takes great pride in their Polish heritage. Her Polish name is Sala, but the American version is Samantha. E tells me that he grew up in Oahu, Hawaii and just recently moved to Denver, where he met his girlfriend.
We stop at some Irish pub bar just north our of Colorado Springs. Unfortunately, I had the worst luck this week, as I forgot my drivers’ license at Auraria campus when the faculty had to scan in for some paperwork. St. Patty’s weekend has to be the worst time to be without an ID. Needless to say, the bartender is nice enough to let me stay at the bar, yet I can’t partake in in an Irish car bomb with my new friends.
After slamming a couple Irish car bombs and some lively conversation, we hop back into the car and stop at Sala’s place to grab some of her stuff, then head back out onto the Interstate.
We exchange a lot about ourselves, and she tells me that she lives in Colorado Springs, but her parents live in Seleta, where they own a couple of hotels, and do a lot of skiiing. She tells me that I should ocme out some time, and I concur that this would be a good idea.
E tells me a bit about growing up in Hawaii, in particular spear fishing along the ocean front using body boards, which he did a lot of growing up. The style of fishing is (modestly put) only a tad bit different than the cast-and-rod fishing in Michigan. “For fishing along the ocean”, he says,” a license is usually not needed, only for the inland water ports.”
E tells me that there are huge pineapple plantations in Hawaii, and it is illegal to pull the fruit off the branches, but his friends and him used to sneak in and get free fruit in their youth. I ask him what the radius of the island is and he tells me “it takes about two hours to drive completely around the circumference of the island.”
We get to talking about social networking, and how this is affecting society and people’s outlook on things— how relationships are becoming nothing beyond skin deep, shallow, and how we are expected to reveal are so-called “true selves” on the Internet. E says that he canceled his Facebook account awhile back, because he “got fed up with it.” Sala still keeps hers.
I wonder what happens, and where it takes us, as people are constantly checking their FB updates as they drive by and scowl at someone like myself, on the side of the road with a cardboard hitchhiking sign. This question becomes part of the experiment. We just laugh about it as we drive into Denver; the fallacies and hypocricy of the world we inhabit.
Sala tells me that she was in a car wreck with her x-boyfriend awhile back, which shattered some of her vertabrae, and is an ongoing headache and legal battle by the sounds of it. She is a bundle of high-spirit and positive energy despite this, which I admire.
Somehow, we get to talking about my x girlfriend, because she was asking how I originally got to Denver. I tell her I met her on an airplane, and how it brought me here, but also how we ended up splitting up, and the reasons for doing so. She is silent for a minute. “Wow”, she says. “What a bitch.”
E tells me that he plays the ukelele (an instrument with Hawaiin roots), and I suggest that we record some music and drink some brews in the near future. He concurs. I give them a CD of some of my music.
We reach Cherry Creek, and they drop me off, and as I sit here writing I try to think of a word or what this small experience has led to. As I walk back to my “place”, I think the word may even be enlightenment; an ongoing pursuit.