I’ve been getting mighty well acquainted with I-70 these days, specifically the stretch between exits 238 and 270, while I take loads of boxes in my trusty Ford Focus to the new place. I’ve been calling these trips F-loads, not surprisingly. I’ve noticed a particular habit of mine during these trips. I see something in the road a little ways ahead, but as I draw closer, I see that it’s an inanimate object: a wet cardboard box, a discarded wadded-up t-shirt, a hunk of wood. I can’t help but smile — every single time. It seems to be an automatic response. I’m pleased some little critter wasn’t run over, and that, instead, that glob by the side of the road was just a crumpled pair of underpants. Waitaminute, how did those end up there?
This, of course, brings about another kind of entertainment: imagining the story. Maybe someone had an epiphany, a moment of liberation, and flung their underpants out the car window as a statement. Maybe someone’s luggage exploded and there were a lot of other clothes, but someone else happened by and picked them up (jackpot!), but the underpants were just too personal, and were left behind. Maybe some rogue raccoons around here don’t limit their resourcefulness to food, and have diversified into tighty-whitey raids. But then, after they get the underpants, let’s face it, what use do raccoons really have for underpants? After proudly carrying them around for a bit, the former bandit would almost certainly become a litterer.
This in turn gives rise to the other side of the scenario. With the starting point being the expectation of finding one’s underpants and being perhaps somewhat disappointed (entertaining in itself: is the drawer or the hamper just a little light, or have said underpants actually gone AWOL from one’s very person?) how does one get to the endpoint of them having been swiped by raccoons? What is the middle matter, and indeed the climactic point, of that story, such that “raccoons got them” is the denouement?
What can I say? The drive eastward isn’t quite as scenic as the drive westward.
I’m pleased to report that I will be monitoring bats again this year. I’ve learned new things about them, too. For example, did you know vampire bats can run — and I mean really haul ass — on their feet and wrists? I have a feeding site again this year, but a different one. I’m really looking forward to checking the new site out and getting familiar with the hikes. Bats are so cool. All in all, bat monitoring is an excellent way to get out and enjoy some night hiking, impressive critters, and the summer in Colorado.
And by summer in Colorado, I of course mean: Fire Season. Ah yes, the season when Colorado is all aglow with various fires. It’s official, too. I heard a teaser for the evening news a couple of weeks ago that was enticing viewers by offering safety tips for the upcoming Fire Season. So, the seasons of Colorado now consist of: autumn, winter, spring, and fire. I later wished I’d tuned in to hear what one was supposed to do for Fire Season. Are there cute metallic-toned accessories now available at Target that are shaped like fire extinguishers? Is there a forest stampede festival in some quaint mountain town, with backfire setting as a major contest? Ride A Briquette To Work Day? Do we all toast s’mores simply by lining up some marshmallows on a windowsill for a little while? Ah, Fire Season. I’m really looking forward to it.
While I was driving from Chicago to Urbana today for the Fifth International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, I was contemplating how nice it was that so many speed limits across the country have long since been raised from the previously obligatory 55 miles per hour. There are so very many stretches of US Interstate that are flat and straight forever. Eisenhower, initiator of the Interstate system, was inspired by the Autobahn. Surely, driving 55 was on nobody’s mind. Is anyone else really entertained by the idea that Reagan, the oldest US President in history, was the guy who made federal highway funding contingent on everyone driving like a geezer?
You’ve probably been wondering where the hell I’ve been. Understandable. Well, I’m getting divorced and moving. Before that, I was really preoccupied with my marriage, which I knew was painfully unraveling and making us both miserable, but I didn’t really want to write about that for the world to see. With that taking up the bulk of my brain, it was also hard to write about other stuff.
Since my divorce is about to be a matter of public record, though, hey, no point in trying to keep it quiet. Besides, in much the same way I was once really proud of my marriage, I’m actually kinda proud of my divorce. It’s going, well, rather swimmingly. We’re getting along better than we have in years, and enjoying a very deep, respectful friendship. We’ve been laughing together again, which is lovely — I really missed that. We’re agreeing on everything so far, and there haven’t been any breakup-related spats at all (well, since that last martial argument that initiated the breakup, anyway).
This is the upside of not having any kids, or many material possessions, or any major assets beyond one car each: it makes this process fairly simple from a legal perspective. It also makes the financial paperwork somewhat hilarious. Since we’re amicable, too, sure, it’s still sad, and difficult, but it’s nowhere near as wrenching and impossible as I thought it would be. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that our breakup was mutual and rational — we decided together — nobody got dumped, and we both did the right thing by each other and by ourselves. We should be able to just file paperwork, hug, and part ways amicably, staying the kind of friends we have been for these last few weeks. Best of all, there is no need to enrich all the people and industries and juridically-related systems that profit from the demises of formerly happy partnerships. It just rubs so much salt in the wounds, you know? I think there’s a special place in hell for those who profit of others’ misery, and I think a lot of them take the opportunity afforded by divorce to do so. Plus, this way, I get to stick it to the man, and that’s always a bonus.
The thing we had that was truly community property and more difficult to which to assign any individual ownership than anything else was our significant DVD collection. I thought it was going to be crushingly hard to split it, and that we would have terrible fights for sure. As it turned out, though, it wasn’t too bad. We had a bunch of stuff that one of us watched a lot and the other didn’t, or that one of us didn’t necessarily want, or that we had on both DVD and VHS. We ended up with about 20 or so that we both wanted, and we just traded them out at the end like baseball cards. It was actually sort of fun, and I really valued having fun together again. Again, still sad and difficult, but not crushingly terrible. We’re both committed to protecting our friendship, and to being fair.
I’m also moving to Idaho Springs, a very cute mountain town about 40 minutes outside Denver. The house I’ll be living in is actually technically about 3,000 feet above the town, which is itself around 8,000 feet. There’s plenty of scenery, and snow around most of the year, but not much in the way of air. I’m adapting to that okay. I am a little concerned that, even though I’ll have a real guest room for the first time in my adult life, my sea-level-dwelling friends and family still won’t visit for fear of altitude sickness. Or possibly dogs. Because there are indeed two dogs. They’re big and mellow, they like cats, and they mostly sleep. Maybe I can get an oxygen bottle and some jerky treats. That should cover both.
I’m planning to be installed in the mountain lodge by the end of the month, and I’ve been taking boxes up there in The Magical Ford Focus of Holding. The goal is to have to move only furniture on the day I get a truck and people to help. To that end, I’ll be taking several more Focusloads up the hill over the next week and a half. I’ve been calling them F-loads.
I remember commenting to Lisa a few years ago that I was really surprised by how conventional my life looked, and that I expected to be doing something like living in a tree by now. Moving into the mountains and having an intense Colorado experience is certainly enough like living in a tree. It’s an adventure. And it is something I would do. Also, the commute is spectacular.