‘Sailing the Seas of Cheese’
The cracked, flat concrete is beautiful. Lined with perfect, fat strips of tar, stretching out underfoot for thousands of square feet, I am taken away by this serene, urban spectacle’s visual power to wash me away in thought.One evenly applied black strip leads so aesthetically into the next and the next, I can’t see where the oceanic web of black lines begins or ends, and all I can do is look out across it all from my drifting position…. Relationships. Life is all about relationships – how you are with each thing around you and inside you. The bond with my evolving surroundings is what puts me in my place in this web.For example, I walk by Glenwood Springs High School ( a “new” building, though I still recognize many of the bricks) and I remember a story that began on the first day of my freshman year at Rifle High School.We were seated high up in the bleachers, against the wall in the gym, ready for a first-day pep rally. A bubbly blonde girl stood up down in front.”Does anyone have a belt I could borrow?” she asked. “My pants are falling down and I have to go march with the band.” (She played trombone, or “the ‘boner,'” as she called it.)I had a belt, which I whipped off and handed to her – she hopped up and kissed my cheek before I knew what was happening. That was how I met Tara.Even when I transferred to Glenwood the next year, I made two good friends on my first day there – Tara had told them about me. (This was an incredible relief, as I was a shy only child who was awkward at meeting people; new schools seemed like nightmares.) Tara, Emily and Morgan ended up being my lovely dates to Homecoming ’98. … I felt like I was in heaven, walking into McDonald’s with those three dolled-up girls (and Emily’s parents and younger sister – Jim, Anne and Alison) to later be dropped off at the GSHS gymnasium.As we grew up, Tara and I were always close. We’d meet up for pizza at Mancinelli’s after work, where I gave her a poem once in the dark parking lot. (I’m still too embarrassed to share the cheesy title of that doggerel in this column. Years later my face would turn beet-red when she told me she still had the piece of folded notebook paper in her underwear drawer.)We both went to college at CU-Boulder, where I was often a shoulder for her to cry on in her dorm room.She began studying snow, and I journalism. We kept in touch, though less often, and eventually she found a boyfriend who wasn’t me.I finally met him – Todd, a climber and snowboarder extraordinaire – when Tara talked us into going up Boulder Canyon as a group for some ice climbing. To meet a guy with such similar interests and talents ruffled my self-identity a little. Soon enough, however, “T-bone” and I were sleeping next to each other on the side of Yosemite’s El Capitan for many nights, dangling thousands of feet off the ground, just a little closer to the moon than the rest of humanity.And then there were also the snowboarding days, chasing Todd’s red jacket through green, powdery woods on Berthoud Pass, like plowing through a muffled dream in search of the next fresh turn or cliff drop.Life was light and happy, and the years fell away effortlessly with each turn in the snow. Until one day when we reached the bottom of a hill.We graduated college. Got jobs. Moved away.I still remember the ache in my heart when I helped them pack and load their Montana-bound U-Haul. It was a mix of happiness for them and a sense of being left behind in an empty town.Now Todd and Tara are getting married – Aug. 2, outside Rifle – and have asked me to write something to read at the wedding. I still don’t know what the words will be (really). There’s so much to say, it’s hard to begin. This is all on my mind as I walk across this concrete parking lot behind City Market. How the years go by! Like these thoughts, like these flowing cracks, which add up to something so much bigger than my little speck.A speck, yes, but look – there I am, nonetheless. I, too, am a brick in this town, this world, tied to all of this and all of you around me. Whether we like it or not, we make our lives together.So I look you in the eye and say, “Hi” with a nod when we pass on the street. (I don’t say it, but here’s a little love. We’re cool. Pass it on. Good luck.) You and me, we’re steering this clanking ship together. Let’s go someplace rich and fun. Waddaya say?Derek Franz enjoys the music of Primus (in case you wondered about the column title) and fancies himself as a mild-mannered pirate. If you’d like a parley, ye may contact him at email@example.com or 384-9113. May the seas of karma carry ye mateys to what you deserve. Aahrrg!
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