The man I lived with became violently abusive. Over time he had transformed from the man of my dreams into a nightmare. It started with his return to alcohol. And then drugs. Not surprising, his anger boiled over at the slightest thing. An acquaintance had failed to pay him back thirty-five dollars. One day late and he was on the phone to someone to have the guy messed up in front of his wife. It would cost him a hundred bucks for a dirty deed. The borrower showed up at our door the very next morning with the cash and something for interest and “good faith”. After they left, the boyfriend back peddled through flaming hoops to cancel the order. My dreamboat started sinking fast.
We had put money down on a house, bought furniture, moved in and before you could say the word denial, he put me out on the street. I was homeless he was living in a Florida Keys house on a private lagoon. I slept in my car, spent a night in a shelter, called home wherever a friend would take me in. My cat was safely boarded at the Veterinarian’s. I darned near got raped by the roommate of one of my friends. Somehow the boyfriend reached me and threatened to cut my throat. He’d had a switchblade and a peculiar fascination about the jugular vein.
The cat and I spent that summer in Northwestern Montana working at an old Chalet across from Glacier National Park. I cleaned rooms and she tried her paws at mousing. Summer wore itself out as winter began to set in. A sister of mine lived in Denver, Colorado and convinced me to give up on the idea of staying in the land of Big Sky. I packed up the cat and the car once again, heading south, not at all certain Colorado was the place I wanted to be.
Two or three beautiful areas and a couple weeks later I found myself at a Chinese restaurant in Rock Springs, Wyoming, at a crossroad. I-80 ran through the town. I could go east toward Virginia where a niece was pregnant with twins and had a three year old boy I yearned to watch grow up. I could just as easily head west toward the coast, back to an ocean, back to some water and kayaking territories. The east was an expensive place to live, the west coast often overcast and gloomy. I’d spent eighteen years in the Fabulously expensive Florida Keys avoiding the grey skies of my upbringing, Michigan. Sunshine is the chocolate chips in the batch of cookies I create to keep from doing myself in. Unsure of which direction I should head, I said a prayer to my sidekick, God.
More of a request, I asked God for a direction to head in. “I know you are sitting here with me watching the Szechuan vegetables and Tofu get cold. I need some help here. Show me please, show me the direction to head in. I’m going to flip a coin, this dime I hold in my hand. Heads west, tails south to Denver. You choose, I will go. “.
“Ok. Throw the coin.”
Tails. “Two out of three?” I asked.
“You don’t gamble,” God replied.
“I’m not exactly winning at this game of life, either.”
“Ok, two out of three.”
Tails. Then tails again.
“Five out of seven?”I asked. The dime slipped out of my hand and onto the floor. The tail end wagged at me.
“Put the dime back in your pocket and head for Denver. You asked for a sign and I have given you the direction you need to head in.”.
The next morning I loaded the cat and I back in the car and headed to Denver with a peace of mind I hadn’t experienced in all the months of being homeless and on the road. I would love to tell you everything fell into place upon my arrival here in Colorado. I lived and worked in Denver for nine miserable months. No matter what I did or tried to participate in it just couldn’t work out. I was ostracized from a Jazzercise center because I didn’t know who “John” was whom everyone was referring to. Turns out it was Elway. I was thrown out of a bar in Aurora for dancing on a table and getting more audience than the male stripper. Columbine High happened and one of the children’s funerals took place in the cemetery directly outside my apartment. I found myself outside of my car in the sub-zero weather of winter, the car frozen shut unable to get to work. A dance event was recommended to me, located on Pearl, it turns out there are three Pearl Streets, avenue or just Pearl in Denver. Invited to a party on the north side of town, a big street event the next day had the streets I needed to access blocked off. Once again found myself unable to get there or anywhere from where I was at.
“God, you have one a sense of adventure I do not find exciting,”. I stated from behind the steering wheel, unable to move in traffic going nowhere.
My employer was expanding to open a branch in Colorado Springs. I signed myself up to go. It was at least one third the size of Denver. And it is SOUTH, a word connoting warmth, something I was unable to get my arms around in Colorado’s capital city. It is closer to the mountains offering a chance for a walk or two and hopefully a hiking group that would welcome me.
On the way to a first visit to what would be my next hometown, a scenic turn-off is located on I-25, the main route between Denver and Colorado Springs. I pulled off to check it out. Before me, PIKES PEAK. The mountain whose name that started calling to me to come live there in third grade (Pikes Peak or Bust!). When all my Michigan hippie friends had packed it up to respond to John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” I’d stayed back, reluctantly and too timid to take a chance and follow the call. Colorado had been urging me to venture away from home for a very long time.
“Tails, you win, kid. Welcome home.”