What kind of man is it who goes to the Rocky Mountains, and through determination, skill, and (I assume) access to a wide variety of power tools alone takes a space where there was no attractive and charming two-storey wooden house with electricity and running water and says ‘Here. Here is where I will build an attractive and charming two-storey wooden house with electricity and running water’?
A kind of man who is a man totally unlike me – that’s what kind of man. Because I would have given up and gone crying down the mountain road before I was even done measuring out the ground with my stride as soon as I realised that there might be a bug in the woods.
What kind of family is it who says ‘You’re going to be in Colorado? And we’ve never met you? Please come and make yourselves at home in this attractive and charming two-storey wooden house with electricity and running water that some guy built while we take you in and feed you and make sure you’re entertained while you’re there?’
Well, that would be Erika Rae’s family.
What kind of a man is it who says ‘We’re all going to be hanging out? Then I’m going to bring a case of wine and some champagne for all of us, including these strangers from across the Pacific, and we’re going to do this right?’
Well, that would be Uche Ogbuji.
What kind of woman is it who still terrifies me, even though there is now an ocean between us, and I have it on excellent authority that she can’t cross over running water?
Obviously, Megan diLullo.
I must warn you. Please remove any magnets from the immediate vicinity, as the following photo is so metal that they will fly screaming across the room and bury themselves in your computer screen.
Right before they catch on fire.
Dear TNB: These are your editors.
An insight into TPAC’s combined intelligence and problem-solving ability can be found in how we handled our arrival into the Rockies.
Step One: Talk to Erika Rae. Get her address. Also get told that there is little cell phone reception to be found near her house.
Step Two: Drive to the nearest city centre with the idea of going from there. Find our GPS doesn’t recognise her address.
Step Three: Decide to call Erika.
Step Four: Remember what we were told about the cell phones less than twenty minutes earlier.
Step Five: Use the post office landline to call and leave a message asking for Erika to come and meet us at the local cafe.
Step Six: Also get directions from the woman at the post office.
Step Seven: Wait five minutes. Unsure if Erika will get message anytime soon. Decide to follow post office directions.
Step Eight: Figure that we can recognise Erika, a woman we have never met, if she passes us on the road on the way to her house, by the fact that she is brunette and we think she drives an SUV.
Step Nine: Drive past a brunette woman in an SUV. Turn around and go back to town.
Step Ten: Unable to find brunette woman in an SUV.
Step Eleven: Go back to cafe, defeated. Cafe owner hears our accents and asks if we are the people Erika just called about.
Step Twelve: Stick to Erika’s original, one-step suggestion: ‘Why don’t I just come meet you guys?’
Step Thirteen: Erika comes meets us guys.
Step Fourteen: Hilarity ensues.
Seriously, if you want to have a good time, go hang out with the Colorado contingent of TNB. They have bears. It’s awesome.
We got in to Erika’s place late in the morning. We met her kids (small, smaller, smallest), her husband (tall), and her dogs (friendly) right before we got introduced to the next member of her family: the woods.
I’ll say this.
I’ve always defined myself as a city guy. I grew up in suburbia, familiarised myself with the alleyways of Melbourne as soon as I had the chance, fell in love with San Francisco, and thrill to the sights and sounds of cities at night.
But I could live in the Rocky Mountains. Mountain lion dens, the quiet of marshes and trees, the storms that sweep past. Trees that smell like vanilla and chocolate and strawberry and Zara’s background chirping of ‘I want a squirrel!’ (OK, at this point, I was fairly sure we were actually in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory…).
I could live there, so happily.
As long as, of course, I had the time to practise my Uchery.
Whatever you were doing on Friday June 11, we had more fun. We just did.
Deal with it.
We had poetry readings, brain-damaged monkeys, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. We had kung-fu, and huge amounts of good, good food, and wine. We had same-sex marriage ceremonies and Marilyn Manson and German reggae. We had lightning and archery and we had this almost completely unexplainable photo.
We had a roof over our heads while the skies opened up and we had friends who took us in and made us feel so, so welcome. We had discussions about life and love and writing and each other, about monkeys and squirrels and chipmunks.
And we miss you guys, now.