Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Peter Pan Complex/Hammertime Love Letter to Durango

In between the time I write this and when it’s published, I’ll turn 35 years old. Also, my driver’s license expires, something I realized just before I was about to get out of town, and back to climbing in the desert.

As I was walking into the DMV I suddenly remembered what I’d done to my hair two days before: replicated my favorite 90s pop hero MC Hammer’s hairdo. The bottom layer of my hair has three distinct lines shaven into it, and the top is a white boy’s attempt at a flat top. Why did I do this? Well, each year for Thanksgiving my crew of friends unites in the desert to climb, party and feast, and of course as any proud Durangatang would, I show up in costume, and this year, well, let’s just say its going to be Hammertime.

Photo by Mike A Shaw
So, with this decision, I’ve extended my immaturity for the next ten years, sealed in my driver’s license photo, which is fitting because I get carded regularly, and most people when they ask are surprised by my age. And, I must say if I’m going to extend my Peter Pan complex into my mid-forties, there’s not a better place than Durango. Well, at least for someone who loves costumes.

Three years ago I moved to Durango on a whim, a yearning for a change of direction in life. I was becoming too serious, spending too much time in an office, and tired of the politics that accompany such lifestyles. I wanted to be broke again, to write like a broke writer does, to explore once and for all if I had what it took to become an artist, and not simply one who eats by the copy he writes. I’d yet to have a family to support, and been close enough to love to know that such things come into a person’s life along with love. If I was going to try, and really fly with it, it had to be then, or never. A writer must build his house of words over years, decades, a lifetime.

So here I am three years later, and, well, I’m writing. I haven’t written my masterpiece, though at moments its been sketched in a journal at a coffeeshop, or told through whispering sweet nothings to a ladyfriend at a dimly lit bar when both of us had just enough to drink. A dream is only a dream until it is told to a lover, then it has been born. It is up to the dreamer to keep it alive. It is up to the writer to not spend too much time drinking and dreaming, just enough. And the love holds it all together.

As part of my morning routine I always check the website of two newspapers: the Durango Herald, and the New York Times. I get the facts, but what I’m looking for is some soul, someone who has a way with words to tell me a story. Then, in the Times, I came across, “The Long Goodbye” an article documenting fifty years of writers saying so long to New York, usually leaving with dreams unfulfilled. It compared the romantic vision being a writer in the city, with the reality. And then I realized, the town I chose to live out my early thirty something writing dreams has not only fulfilled those dreams, but it has become home.

Home. A writer needs adventure, and just as much he needs a home. And, when did this transition occur? Was it in the early morning light, on the rocks, with my tribe of people, the climbers, all searching together for the same damn thing, that thing that transforms us where the rock and climber weave and dance. Was it through art, where people, faces from the town become names, friends, and we tell our stories to one another; the medium where I went from being “vanilla rooibos tea guy” to my name to the baristas at my favorite coffeeshop. The joy of discovery to learn that nearly every waitress is not merely a waitress, there is often an artist and a dream that lies beneath the apron.

This junction of mountain and desert, as I try to write about it now I’m getting too close, its time to get out in the fresh air, and experience it. Why this is home is beyond me. It was left up to the stars and the moons years ago, and I suppose I’m reuniting, instead of creating. The stars of the night have their answers, don’t they? Human will versus destiny, it has to be a flow and not a fight.

So am I Peter Pan, MC Hammer, or a portrait of an artist as a young man? A piece of each I assume, though I suspect for the next ten years my Colorado identification will scream “Stop…Hammertime”. I can only hope I’ll continue to get carded.

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