Wednesday, June 26, 2013

my last day in durango.

All day today I'd planned on going to the gym with Margaret, because my "Welcome to Durango" packet had included a free pass and I needed the exercise. But after many hours at home pretending to be a writer while actually wasting vast amounts of time online, Margaret showed up and we decided that happy hour downtown sounded far more appealing than a session at the gym. It was a good choice. One cocktail led to another, and eventually I found myself walking home happily buzzed through the warm, friendly streets of Durango.

I saw Willie sitting in front of the Bookcase, in the same place where I'd met him a couple weeks ago. He's a local homeless musician, and he reminds me of my Dad, though I doubt my Dad would take kindly to the comparison. After meeting Willie for the first time, I felt so bad for him and at the same time liked him so much that I thought about bringing him some cookies or a card on Father's Day, since his own daughters have cut off all ties with him. But one thing led to another, and I never did.

Tonight Willie and I shared a cigar and he told me with a humble openness about his alcoholism, the 30 years he spent drunk without a hangover, and the four heart attacks and three strokes that have since straightened him out. People walked by and smiled and said hello, and I wondered if it looked odd, me sitting on a bench with this gnarly bearded guy who looks like a worn-down cowboy. But there's no denying that regardless of his age or socioeconomic class, he's good company. Talking with him satisfies some unspoken need; it eases the guilt I feel for being thousands of miles away from the barstool where I know my own father is sitting, the man who loves my company so much and would do anything for me except stop his own suffering.

It's not only guilt that makes me stop and sit with Willie, but enjoyment, too, the pleasure of knowing that my company has the power to make an old man so damn happy; the pleasure of knowing that I have all the time in the world this evening to stop and chat; the pleasure that I somehow strangely get from hanging out with fascinating old guys I've met in my travels. Maybe it is weird. Maybe I should be more cautious.

I'm sure that's what many people in my life would tell me: be more careful, Krista. There's no need to befriend these strangers. But there are others, I hope, who see things the way I do, who believe that intuition is a thing to be trusted, that risk is inherent in everything we do, and that spreading compassion and learning about somebody else's life is sometimes worth a little bit of risk.

I walked home a few more blocks, just as dusk was turning to dark, ran into a couple more friends, talked with them for a bit, walked on. Said hello to people sitting on their porches or walking by with their dogs, partners, friends or kids. Looked in the glowing windows of houses, as I do at this time of day, and imagine the lives lived inside. Wearing a skirt and tank top, I was perfectly warm, skin caressed, feeling safe and cared for and content in this little town where I've been living. Thank you, universe, for giving me this place, this life, these people. Tomorrow I move again -- north to Paonia. 

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