Episodes of departure
She is on the bike coming home from her last day slinging burgers at a famous in-town bar and grill. I’m in the driveway with my hockey stick practicing advanced procrastination techniques. Not playing night hockey, mind you, just leaning on the stick and staring into space, dreaming up new ways to fight light pollution and save Chair 10.This is Libby: She wears designer jeans, fashionable shoes and powder-blue snowboard gear. She’s been here three years and she’s had enough, she’s leaving, joining the great spring migration of young transients in search of the real world.She stops on the bike to tell me so, lamenting another year lost to the blurry haze of life in the resort service industry. Every night is sweeping, cleaning, counting tips and then another shot of Tuaca, or Jagermeister, or Captain and Coke. She had a boyfriend for a while, but he was discovered with another woman in the midst of an ecstasy binge. She fought back in the only way she knew how, but then he used her little car as a battering ram during a late-night game of unsanctioned car bowling, only to be injured later in a high-speed bumper-skitching session, and that was the end of that.She tried dating, but it’s no good the town’s too small. She was quickly pegged as a bootie-call artist. She no longer noticed when drunken tourists slapped her barmaid butt. She’s tired, put-out. “Over it,” as she says.”If I have to serve another burger, I’m seriously going to freak out.”You’re not the only one, Libby.In fact there are hundreds of Libby clones out there, dumping their used mattresses at the Edwards Thrifty Shop and catching one last serving of Freedom Toast at Bartelli’s Deli before collecting their deposits and heading for the airport. One-way ticket, bound for Minneapolis. Time to dry up. Time to take care.I watch them, or help pack, and we make promises to write and visit but really we don’t know. They tell me to come and visit and I nod, but I wonder what Minneapolis has to offer that I can’t get on a cloudy day in Commerce City.Really, why are they leaving?Libby tells me Vail isn’t real. It’s time to grow up, get a real job, clock in, join the game. She’s had enough of 2.5 jobs. Now she wants 2.5 kids and a matching set of curtains. This is what she says.When she leaves she rings her little bike bell over and over again on the way to her house just down the street, mostly to warn our neighborhood bear that she’s on her way. No surprises. Clear out, Mr. Bear. The bears are something she didn’t know about when she came here a few years ago.Despite her current disgust with onion rings and spilled Budweiser, I’m sure she’ll have a little part of her that loves this town forever. She’ll probably look back fondly on a town where the most menacing danger on the streets at night was a bear, not a burglar.And she might come back, I suppose, if she could ever find a little bell that keeps her protected from greasy hamburgers, Tuaca shots, and jackass boyfriends. And maybe she will, or maybe matching curtains won’t be enough. But probably, like so many others I have known, she’ll just disappear into the weird vortex everyone refers to as the “Real World,” lost forever to the rat race, the clock, and the bear-less, star-less world beneath the Minneapolis skyline.Tom Boyd is interested in hearing what you think. Surprise him with a midnight call at (970) 390-1585 or stay stealthy at email@example.com.
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