Sunday, December 12, 2004

I wasn't going to post tonight...

...but I changed my mind.

This weekend has been a roller coaster of sorts, from getting lost to flunking my exams for making stupid mistakes and not trusting what I know to feeling as though I failed my friends and being blissfully and completely happy.

The drive to Colorado Springs was uneventful and the directions for the first part of the journey were excellent. I had a really great Mexican lunch at Salsa Brava on Rockrimmon and spent some time in a great electronics parts warehouse called OEM that was dusty, dirty, a bit disorganized, but really fascinating. My hands itched wanting to pick up and handle everything, fill a basket with parts and build/rebuild computers and radios and all things electronic and magick. That is one place I want to visit again the next time I go to the springs.

I got turned around and a little lost when I tried to find 's house and ended up calling from a pay phone. She came to lead me back to where we were having the initiation and, although I was late, it turned out great. It was fun talking, laughing, and joking with friends and getting to know them a little better. Back at the muse's apartment we talked to after two even though I had to get up at seven. Woke up about 6:45, got up, got showered and dressed, and went outside in the fresh air to wait for my ride to the exam.

One thing that amazes me still is the difference in weather between here and the springs. This side of the divide is snowy and cold and that side is more like sere autumn than the beginning of winter. Colorado Springs is laid out like a stadium audience around snow-dusted Pike's Peak. The surrounding hills and peaks are craggy and bare, dark faces that frame Pike's Peak while spread out at their feet is the half circle hub of the town. As usual, the good seats are close to the stage and the rest of the seats vary between corporate types and an all encompassing mix of squalor and the different levels of success. Hotels, motels, businesses, strip malls, restaurants of every kind, stores, and car lots dominate the landscape, overwhelming little pockets of houses and apartments and dotted with nearly hidden parks and slowly disappearing lots. It is a much different Colorado Springs than the one I met 30 years ago when I visited Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak for the first time. It's a much more commercial area where the noise of traffic and construction vie to be the loudest, a symphony of civilized, social chaos. It is also home to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame (I'll have to check it out some time) where white con trails from Air Force Academy jets streak from nowhere in a hazy blue sky and disappear into the ether. The overwhelming smells of diesel fuel, gasoline, and the reek of civilization were stronger than I remembered, a palpable smack in the face of progress and people and crowded spaces, smells I have forgotten in the crisp, clear rural air of my home.

Saturday morning I was the only female present during a ham version of show and tell. One of the hams had built an ingenious antenna for his backpacking rig. I met a shrunken, grizzled old Army Air Corps veteran who learned code during the war and was still obviously in love with the magic of radio and communicating (working) other hams all over the world. One thing is certain, it is evident that those men are still very much little boys playing radio, and it was a pleasure to see and share their enthusiasm.

Although I flunked the test because I didn't trust what I know (even to the point of changing right answers into wrong answers), I don't feel bad about it. A friend reminded me that I have been going thru a lot this past week and that I can take it again. And I will take the exams again in January in Longmont. At least I know what to expect and things (meaning me) should be calmer by then.

My friend and I left, went to the bank, and stopped at Arby's to pick up lunch. He drove to Palmer Park and we sat in the park and talked and ate. The day was cool and breezy, but still fairly warm. There were children playing on the swings and monkey bars a little ways away from us and their laughter and squeals of delight were like music on an errant breeze. After we ate, we went somewhere quiet and talked and laughed and joked and got to know each other better.

I could tell he was antsy and excited and he finally told me why. He had brought a Xmas gift for me. He even wrapped it himself, apologizing for what he felt was a bad job. On the whole, he did pretty well, especially on what was inside. He gave me a copy of Conversations With God, which he forgot to inscribe, and Ken Burns's documentary on Mark Twain on DVD. He knows how much I love Twain. For someone who does a great impression of Scrooge during the holidays, he failed miserably this time. He was excited as a kid on Xmas morning.

He drove me back to the Muse's but no one was there so I waited. Thru a miscommunication our plans with were canceled and instead we ordered a decadently greasy and wonderful pepperoni lovers pizza from Pizza Hut and drank a couple glasses of wine while we watched Room with a View on video. I dozed during part of the movie because I was a little tired and eventually we all went to bed.

This morning we got up, shared a cup of tea for me and coffee for the Muse and her son, and I got dressed, packed, and headed for the door with a bigger bag of books than when I arrived. More reading and reviewing to do. The drive home was quiet and uneventful and, although I was a little sad to leave, once I got onto the highway and I looked forward to going home, back to the snow and cold and peace of my little mountain aerie.

The sky was full of gray wool but patches of robin's egg blue that deepened into summer cornflowers between the dirty, gray lowering clouds were like banners welcoming me home. The snow on the sides of the mountain looked like high tide marks on a morning beach, wet tan ripples below pristine sparkling white powder that drifted and climbed around the pines. Here and there splintered, bare giant's toothpicks leaned against dark green boughs as though discarded and flung like darts to the ground, their pointed ends pricking the sky. I traveled from the sere brown valleys into the thick white clouds surrounding the sparkling white peaks and back down into the snowy valley road that led home.

The guys plowed my driveway all the way to the end while I was gone and I had clear space on either side where I park my car in front of the door. Once inside, the scent of lavender and growing herbs and the familiar cool air greeted me.

There are times, like this past weekend, when the clock does not tick so loudly and I am able to share a wealth of time with my friends, but as precious as those hours are, as much as I enjoy them, I am grateful for the clear, untainted peace that surrounds me every day. One thing I know for certain is that I will visit again because I enjoy the luxury of time with friends, but I will also be glad to come home and open the doors of my refuge to my friends so they, too, can enjoy a little respite from progress.

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