Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

The Denver travel council, in their brochure, boasts that Denver has, on average, 350 days of sunshine each year. That’s incorrect. It’s been raining here for a week, and I’ve been a good sport about it. I go out every day to do my shopping, or go to the library or the coffee shop. In fact I think I’m developing tendonitis in my arm from carrying my umbrella so much.
I decided to take advantage of yet another rainy day, when I woke up at 7 a.m. And the skies were overcast—again. Two days ago I emailed my first story to a national magazine. They had accepted my query and requested the story by the end of the month, so I sent it well ahead of time. The pay was miniscule, but the byline would be great, so I was in a holding pattern of waiting to hear from them regarding edits and whatnot. But in my mind there was also the fear that they would respond with “your query was great, but you story’s not that great, so thankyouverymuch.” Trying not to obssessively check my email, I decided I needed a diversion for the day.
I had the picture of a perfect day in my head. I was going to take the bus to Walmart in the suburbs, a 45 minute ride. I really try to support my local small businesses, but some things just need to be purchased at Walmart—like the 30 dollar DVD player I was after. Refusing to be dictated to by the media industry, I will not get a new T.V., nor have I been able to find an affordable adapter for the old one Tim lent me.
So I decided to go to Walmart, get the DVD player and some hamburger and chicken, come home and put the chicken in the crockpot, get some videos from the library, and spend the cold, rainy afternoon watching old t.v shows and doing an editing marathon on my latest manuscript. I left home at 9 a.m, and of course it was raining. The bus ride to Wally World was mostly uneventful, although I got to see more of the outskirts of Denver. I shoved my cheap DVD player into my backpack, wrapped in plastic bags in case the heavy rain penetrated my pack, and carried my chicken and hamburger home in my re-usable grocery bags. I was making good time, and arrived back home at about 11 a.m.
I promptly separated the meat into freezer bags, (I have enough for at least a month’s worth of meals) and threw a couple of thighs into the crockpot with some garlic and gravy. I settled down to hook up my new DVD player before going to the library to get DVD’s. Wouldn’t you know it, the cord I needed to hook the new player up to the old T.V was not included in the box. “Please purchase additional cords at your local retailer.” Dammit! I should have known. Oh well. I was sure Walgreens, or Ross, or at least Radio Shack down on 16th Street would have the cord, so I put the crockpot on low and headed for the mall.
Walgreens didn’t have it. Nor did Ross, or Office Depot. Radio Shack had one, but was priced at $29.99, which was 2 dollars more than I paid for the DVD player. Hungry and soaking wet (the umbrella only keeps my top half dry) I headed home to eat some lunch. It was now nearly 2 p.m. I stopped at Steuben’s by my apartment and indulged in a bowl of their 3 dollar mac and cheese, it’s delicious and the closest to how my parents make it. Writing off the day, when I got home I plopped down on the couch.
And I stared at the offending DVD player. This was not the perfect day I’d imagined. I could smell the chicken in the crockpot, and thought of all the writing I would be getting done if only I had bad movies to watch and could cuddle down in my nice soft robe and write and edit. I couldn’t stand it. I made some fresh coffee, filled my travel mug, stuffed the DVD player back into my pack, grabbed the receipt and headed back to Walmart. I would not let them win. I would watch videos today if it killed me.
When I got on the bus, again sopping wet, I took the seat in the very back, plugged in my headphones and relaxed as I drank my coffee. I was actually beginning to enjoy my ride when a ratty looking drunk man plunked down next to me. He reeked of alcohol and was missing most of his teeth.
“Whasssuppp?” His head wobbled too close for me to be comfortable. I tried to ignore him and looked out the window. He kept talking but I kept my headphone in, and I got a short reprieve when a man the drunk knew got on at the next stop. Judging by the new guy’s standoffish demeanor, I don’t think they were good friend. I got the feeling that they were maybe once partying buddies, mainly because the drunk was asking the other guy if her had any weed he could have. The new guy just smiled and humored him.
Suddenly the drunk turned to me and said something. I couldn’t avoid it any longer, so I pulled my earbud out and looked at him.
“You got a boyfriend?” he asked.
“No.” I said, refraining from any chit chat.
“You want one?” he pushed it.
“No.” Again, no idle chit chat, which is kind of bold for me, because I usually end up trying to be nice, which usually ends with me having the drunk idiot on the bus talk to me the whole way.
The new guy on the bus was laughing. “She’s got her music in man, she’s just trying to zone out from the world.”
Thank you strange man.
I found the cord I needed at Walmart, which now upped the price of my cheap DVD player to 46 dollars, but I rationalized that was the price of 4 matinee movies, so I went with it. The bus coming back was full of people who had just left court, who spent the ride bragging/discussing their various offenses/fines/unfair circumstances. And it smelled like urine. Human or cat I’m not sure.
With DVD player in tow, I got off at the library and spent some time perusing their movie room, and came away with the entire third season of Boston Legal, and for my treat tonight—I deserve it—Erin Brokovich.
It is now 6 o’clock p.m. I have successfully wander the cold, rainy streets of Denver for nearly 9 hours. Not the perfect day I had in mind.

My marathon bus riding/city wandering day of course brought with it a large variety of people. The ones who stick out in my mind are, again, the elderly. I watch as the bus driver lowers the ramp for them to board the bus, because they’re too fragile to step up the stairs. I see them on the street, some taking shelter under the awnings of buildings.
They say we’re all two paychecks away from being homeless. I’ve feared before that perhaps my current, minimalist lifestyle may eventually result in me being one of those crazy/homeless old ladies who haunt bus depots looking for warmth. Or wander the streets pushing their shopping cart, or fighting to pull her rolling suitcase full of groceries up the hill to the shelter for the night. I have the ability to glamorize almost anything, but as I watched the many old people creeping their way through the city in the rain, I couldn’t help but be a little frightened about my future.
But then, as I was waiting for the last bus ride of the day, a short 6 block trip up 17th Street, I saw her.
She had to be well into her 70’s. Her well-styled silver hair was covered with a flowered plastic rain bonnet, which was secured to her head with a string underneath her chin. She couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds, and her pressed polyester slacks flapped against her legs in the wind and rain. Her shoes were sensible yet stylish, and she was headed up the hill straight at us. At a really fast pace. She wasn’t scooting, shuffling or stopping for anyone, and as she blew by us, strong and fearless, I noticed she was wearing a backpack. Much like mine. I watched her conquer the hill that I was currently too tired to walk up myself, and watched until she was out of sight. She didn’t waver, she was confident, she had a purpose and she certainly wasn’t working her way to a shelter.
Finally. I had a reason to hope and offset my irrational fears about my future. She may just be walking up the hill to her 300 square foot apartment, where she has chicken cooking in the crockpot and will spend the evening watching videos. THAT was the woman I plan to be in another 30 years.

May 20, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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