Yesterday Denver was warm. I took off my jacket and my buff and my sweatshirt til I was down to my tshirt and jeans and still my face was flushed when we closed the shop at 5pm. A few hours later and a few thousand feet higher all the layers were back on. Snow dissolved to water on my windshield and my car windows kept fogging up on the inside. The Eisenhower Tunnel was closed and traffic stood still. We were all still. Beneath us the snow settled. Finally they started directing cars off of I-70 via the on-ramp at Loveland Pass. At the top of the ramp I stopped where cars from the on-ramp and the off-ramp merged together going in the same direction–away from here. When I put my foot on the gas my wheels spun out beneath me. Again and again. Other cars passed me on the left. What else to do I stepped outside and found beneath me a layer of ice.
Last week I texted M and said I might be breaking up with someone today. She said, let me know what you need. I didn’t end up breaking up with someone but M texted me later and said: in a strange turn of events I just got broken up with. We were both sad but also we laughed because it was kind of funny. She asked me later, “How many breakups have we known each other through?” and I smiled at the question. A lot.
Work was one of those terrible lovely days where it was chaos and beat you down a little but instead of driving us three employees apart it brought us together. When we finally locked that shop door we were all feeling a little loose, a little what-could-possibly-happen-next, what-could-matter. I wanted to bask in it and I did for a while. But then I had to go. I was going to see someone up in the mountains and I really wanted to see him.
So, home to pack. But when I was taking off my shoes in the kitchen my roommate sat down at the table and started talking. Oh I had hardly talked to her all weekend and I think I was waiting for this so I sat down at the table too. And we talked. But there was someone waiting for me so I left her too, maybe sooner than I would have. And my brother invited me over to grill and I said no but I felt sad about it especially as I drove almost right by his house on 6 and didn’t stop and kept going towards the mountains.
There’s something about friendships that I’m trying to get around the back of. They don’t feel colossal the way romantic relationships do. They always seem to take second tier. And I get it. I get it. But I just can’t get over how tender they are. One of M’s friends said to her, “We’ve gotten you through breakups before and we’ll get you through this one. “The way they’ll let you chase after another lover and still be there when you boomerang back.
I called someone on the phone while I waited in my car outside the Eisenhower Tunnel. He checked road conditions and closures for me.
“It closed fifteen minutes ago. If you had left fifteen minutes earlier…” If I hadn’t lingered at work. If I hadn’t sat down at the kitchen table.
“I don’t regret anything,” I said.
“Well, it just wasn’t meant to be.” He meant this particular visit but I can’t help it I SEE SIGNS EVERYWHERE I GO.
But it’s true I don’t regret anything. Not even the drive up there. It was pretty how the snow fell at the top and I learned that the gentlest tap on the gas is what my car needs to get some traction on ice and on the way back down the clouds cleared and the full moon rose behind the mountains. And as I drove I thought about something my roommate said just a few hours before: the pursuit of tenderness is always a noble pursuit. And how we might be surprised by the places where we find it.