Sunday, May 12, 2013 (Colorado Springs to Denver)
Time: 6:15 pm
Wait: About 1/2 hour
I set out to Uintah Exit, and as always, once there, people pass me by, often waving their hands in the air, as some kind of defensive gesture as I smile and make eye contact. About a half hour into the hitch, my mind is wandering, and a silver station wagon gently pulls over to the shoulder.
It’s a non-stereotypical group inside the wagon; a mother and her two young sons in the back seat. She introduces herself as Nora, an at first glance she appears to be maybe thirty, which I later learn is just testament to her naturally youthful look, as she is actually 40.
“We passed you at first,” she says. Her voice is careful, relaxed, and soft. She wears a light orange silk scarf around her neck. “Your sign was hard to read, with the glare of the sun”, she says. She wasn’t sure if I was heading to Denver, but then she turned around once she had read the sign. “You looked respectful, so I thought we should flip around and get you.” I thank her for the thoughtfulness.
It’s ironic that a mother with two kids happens to be picking me up, considering that today is the scheduled calendar mark for Mother’s Day. One of her sons shuffles a rolled-up poster with his fingers in the backseat, and asks curious, genuine questions that only a child can often ask as we drive. Her other son hums music and makes a solid replacement of the radio, which is on mute.
Nora says later in the conversation that she was born in Texas, but moved from state to state with her parents in adolescence. She has a restless sensibility, somewhat nomadic, that I can relate to. We start talking about education, and she tells me that she taught at Denver Metro State college for two years. “I really loved it, the teaching aspect of course”, she tells me. When I ask her why she quit, she tells me that often times it felt that the administration was exploiting the faculty.
That’s how I often feel, but as a student, I add. It’s either work the system or the system will most certainly work you, we conclude.
“I have a job within the arts in Norway right now”, she tells me. “I am back and forth between Norway and the States, to see my kids.”
She tells me that to travel to Norway without a professional connection can be expensive now, as Norway is a developing and increasingly wealthy country now, along with the added overall deterioration of the American dollar. In regards to Norway’s healthcare, when I ask she tells me this story: ” When I was in Norway, I had to have a minor surgery, and it was similar surgery to what my son had to have, in the States. My son’s surgery, prior to mine, had cost over $1,000, so I was worried that it was going to cost a lot. Since Norway’s system is for the people as it is, it only cost five dollars for the same surgery in Norway. Five dollars!”
“A lot of it has to do with the way our taxpayer funding is allocated. Colorado’s public schools are actually pretty well-off, but many don’t realize that it ranks 49th out of all the states in the area of public funding for the arts. That’s part of what the organization I work for is trying to do– write proposals that request more funding for the Colorado art scene.”
I mention that Colorado (Denver specifically) does a good job of presenting itself as an artsy place by spending money on art structures outside of bureaucratic buildings in the downtown area and surrounding suburbia of the metropolitan area. “Presenting the illusion of an art scene is accurate”, she says.
Nora has similar aspirations to what I have, and she tells me that she also does ghost writing. “I’ve written proposals that were signed by the governor”, she tells me. “It’s a legitimate, lucrative business”, she says. “You would be surprised of how many political figures do not write for themselves and hire ghost writers.”
She drops me off and I give her a copy of my book Travel By Two Wheels, as she seems to be the type of person who would enjoy reading it (she actually reads), and also given her life experiences. Nora has the aura of independence, transcending society’s lies, of her own person. I wish that we had more time to chat, but this is my stop. I hop out and she drives off; time will tell if we cross roads again.