I think it’s over. The love affair with Boulder, Colorado may have ended, washed away in a rainy Monday.
Day three of a long weekend, downpours continuing, I vowed to make the most of a holiday clock ticking down. “I’m doing this!” I shouted to no one in particular. “I TOO will have a MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND!”
Love the oxymoron. A day weekend.
Every year, the city plays host to a foot race of massive proportions, the Bolder Boulder. I drove over the hill into town just as the black sky opened wide, requiring the ridiculously high setting of the wiper blades and maneuvering around string after string of runners, the race just finished. Like a flooded ant farm.
After crafty navigating down alleys and side streets (went to college in Boulder and know all the tricks and trades), I arrived at the Pearl Street Mall. The four block brick and cobblestone pedestrian mall was thick with locals and holiday visitors; good to see folks out even in the rain, salvaging something of the day. First stop Tea and Cakes where I ordered the chocolate bacon cupcake. Sounds none-too-palatable at first, but the cake was fluffy maple, the shiny icing a seriously deep chocolate, like a swirl of milk and dark, and with crispy bacon crumbled on top. Heav-en-ly. And the shop, familiar and welcoming, the warm bear hug that always defined Boulder to me.
Water seeping into my wedges aside, the day was going to be okay. Hip, small town artsy and umbrella chic. My town.
The metaphysical store, the tarot reader. Told myself I’d stop for a reading after lunch. I always hope the Death card appears since it merely represents change and a spoonful of that would go down nicely right about now. Past the Peppercorn, ground zero for the gourmand, chocked full of cooking accoutrement (some looks torturous, a bit nipple clampey).
The rain started to let up a little at The Boulder Bookstore, a three-story marvel where amazing local and national authors visit often. Tried for a ticket and chance in line to hear Dave Sedaris read there last year; folks were packed high in the store, most of the reading heard over intercom. They like Dave in this town.
Soon noticed how little eye contact was happening. Usually the mall is a place of noise and music and street buskers. It was feeling different, the hug more a one-armer than full-on, pulling into the crotch variety I'm used to.
Five blocks in, toes filthy wet from failure to navigate one puddle too many, I found lunch at a tiny, tiny hole in the wall serving french fries and toppings. I ordered up a small “Naked with Friends” (what else), a basket of half-baked/half-fried spuds and four dipping sauces. Libra that I am, couldn’t make four so I asked the 6’4 if-he-was-an-inch lumbering and completely uninterested boy behind the counter to choose his favorites. I don’t know that he looked in my eye, or up for that matter, once. Oh yes he did, when the small container of rather bland ranch (my homemade version is much tangier) spilled down the side of my white trench raincoat almost immediately after he asked if I’d like lids. Good thing it wasn’t one of the three red-hued varieties.
The fries were good, thick cut, crispy and not oily at all, but the sauces…meh. The service…blech. The vibe between tiny tables…not only was the hug gone, I’d have welcomed a titty twister just for the company.
Boulder has always leaned a bit left of center. Hippies in Abercrombie tees alongside a middle age man driving a Lotus. But it always felt friendly, and now it just felt like I didn’t belong.
And the fashion is bad.
The boys in Boulder are still more gorgeous than any found anywhere else. I say “boys” because most that land on my radar are a good ten years younger. But I now know why, came to me in an epiphanous cougar moment. They’re single. And luckily for a girl playing the field and out behind the bleachers, they are less concerned with the “where is this going” conversation.
After my quick, quiet lunch I poked into a vintage shop, the LP record cellar where I got the stink eye from a typically pretentious clerk, but mostly I just wanted to go. Two hours and the chemical reaction barely sparked. Sadly.
And seriously, the fashion is bad.
So farewell my love, at least for now. My desire moves to Denver, Highland, Cap Hill. Someday I may return, perhaps when the sun shines and we see each other with fresh faces and rosy cheeks.
I will miss you.
But I’ll miss the bacon cupcake more.