Originally published in the Rocky Mountain News. August 2004
Denver is a city of extremes.
Whether it’s a football game, a rain storm, or a shopping spree, Denver does it the only way it knows how – big.
My collection of phonebooks stands a foot tall. A week’s worth of daily newspapers is knee deep. There are five lanes on the highway, which doesn’t seem to be enough. There are more cineplexs to count. The weather is one extreme or another. And a polo shirt costs $60.
While most of this is common place for the average Denverite, I’ve lived in the city for only a couple of weeks. I’m a Pueblo native. Before you go rolling your eyes thinking ‘Oh, Puebloan. Go figure’ I’d like to say the town I was born and raised in is a wonderful place to grow up and retire. But for now, it’s too small for me. Quite a contradiction isn’t it? I write in awe at the gigantisms of the city while I cry the small town blues.
You see, I don’t bother thumbing through hundreds of pages in the phone book, or having to squint at the last page of comics after digesting a novel of news. The 45 minute commute from Parker Road to County Line Road is growing on me. And I will never have to worry about the hottest flick selling out at every single theater. If I don’t like the weather it will surly change and the polo I desperately want will eventually be on sale.
Upon reflection, this supersized quandary isn’t about the skyscrapers, helicopters, or the suburbs. It’s about me.
Before you accuse me of being a shallow narcissist, read on. This dilemma isn’t about self pity, but of self discovery. I’ve always thought of myself as an extreme person, but living in Denver for only a few weeks I have come to terms with my meek character. In the city with millions of people I no longer have a sense of need I once felt living in Pueblo, where I was somebody to a rather significant number of people. The world, it seems, is moving without me.
People laugh when I said Pueblo was the center of the universe. Go ahead. You probably are now. It’s okay. While scientifically I realize the absurdity of the aforementioned statement, in a way I feel I’ll die with the same conclusion. It just isn’t my home. It’s a place where people come and stay. It’s a place where people come and talk about it. I’ve been to several states, New York, California, Utah, just to name a few. And no matter where I go, I always run into someone who has herd of or been in Pueblo. The cab driver in New York City, the movie producer in Los Angles, the store clerk in Salt Lake City.
The word pueblo in Spanish is defined as the place or the village. The word Pueblo in ‘Nicholasish’ evokes universe. A universe I’m no longer apart of. My star has died, or at least faded. I no longer have a gravitational pull to home. I’m probably but a few specs of molecular star dust to the Puebloans I knew. But we are now learning that out of star dust and other elements a super nova can be born. It could take billions of years, scientifically speaking. But I feel in my case it might take a couple of months.
I remember growing up a child making regular trips up to Parker to visit my aunt. All the while, I was infatuated with Batman. He was my hero. A regular Joe, with a couple billion dollars – but really, who’s counting, a regular Joe who had over come the obstacle of loss and self pity to save one person at a time. The point of this antidote is that before the ‘Tech-Center’ and Littleton was erected, you could see the Denver skyline just outside what is now the city of Lone Tree. I was convinced, no thanks to my parents that Denver was in fact Gotham City. And that the occasional spotlight was the ‘Batsignal’ being flashed by Commissioner Gordan. Well I’m in Gotham City now. And I hope to overcome this obstacle of loss just like Bruce Wayne did.
Pueblo is moving on without me. So am I, moving on without Pueblo.
So look out Denver.
It’s just you and me, the magnificent and the meek.