What Matters

TL, Nancy, Pete, Matt, Rose

Note: Everyone in this story is vaccinated.

I am back from a major flex of my very flabby social muscles. After at least two years of very quiet Thanksgivings I this year attended two dinners on two days with a total of 17 people and broke bread with friends and family at two other meals.

Following a traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thursday here in Gunnison hosted by Bob and Rita for eight of their friends, I abandoned Lynn and the rest of our household to head to Denver with my friends Pete and Nancy. The purpose was twofold: another Thanksgiving with family, and a chance to see friends we hadn’t seen in five years.

About the time Lynn arrived in Gunnison, the Gaylen family left. No cause and effect: that was just Life happening, a balancing of the world. Lynn left the Midwest, so the Gaylen family moved to the Midwest to keep the planet aligned.

When the Gaylen family left, all three of their girls were school-aged. Now all three are grown career women, and Rose’s part-time online job with a company based in Lakewood, in the southwest quadrant of the Denver Metro area, has become full-time, with her presence requested in-office three days a week.

So as Pete, Nancy and I wended our way to Denver on Friday, Rose and her father Matt were rumbling 1,300 miles in a U-Haul van that was so loud they had to shout to one another to begin Rose’s new chapter.

They had stopped for the night as the Gauss and I dined with my parents, who were quite impressed that I know such intelligent people. Matt and Rose hit the road early Saturday while Pete and Nancy, who know someone with an installation in the Denver Art Museum, went to take in his work and spend the day with the artist and his wife.

Because my sister Terri had spent Thanksgiving day with her in-laws in Pueblo, she hosted a family dinner Saturday, although Lynn and nephew Justin were both working in Gunnison and Justin’s dad was working a football game in Oklahoma (camera crew).

By Sunday morning, though, the Gaylens had completed their road trip and the Gauss and I found our way to Rose’s new apartment, strategically situated 10 minutes from downtown and 10 minutes from her new office. It’s also — and this particularly impressed Nancy, Librarian to the Stars — directly across a parking lot from the Corky Gonzales branch of the Denver Public Library.

The last time the Gaylens had come this way was five years ago, for my wedding. It was so good to see them, as we all converged in front of the apartment complex. It didn’t even matter that Matt and I got mistaken for vagrants by apartment security as we waited on the sidewalk for Rose to show the Gauss her box-filled apartment. [To be perfectly technical, and not that I want to gloat, I was asked if I was a resident, while Matt was the vagrant.]

It doesn’t even matter that Matt and I spent the morning rumbling around in the U-Haul, returning a dolly to Home Depot and trying to navigate the area around the stadium in the hours before a Broncos game in an effort to return the truck to a lot that didn’t appear to have any sort of office but was suddenly swarmed by workers wearing the U-Haul logo. The chance to spend some one-on-one time with a friend I used to spend most of my time with was worth every rumbly second.

What I didn’t really expect was the second-hand joy I exacted out of Rose’s enthusiasm for her move to Denver. She’s a millennial, and a competent one at that, so it shouldn’t have surprised me that she, from clear across the country, located an apartment that suits her (it comes with a washer, dryer, dishwasher and bathtub, plus a pool with fountaining jets, and it’s pet friendly should she decide to share her postage-stamp space with a furry one), bought a car that she should be picking up today, and has already bonded with her co-workers.

She’s picking up the car today so that she can show off her dad at the co-workers’ request, and she’s so excited that she has colleagues that would make this request. She was enthused about everything yesterday, including the possibility of visiting her old stomping grounds and a few friends in Gunnison at some future point.

After we carefully navigated parking hell out of Broncos territory into the parking hell of Union Station, I watched Rose spend about two seconds on her phone finding a restaurant that got good reviews, sounded “cute” and was two minutes away.

In the old, old days I used to hang Rose and her younger sisters upside down by their ankles and threaten to drop them if they didn’t tell me I was their favorite. Judy and Ruby always swore up and down that I most certainly was, but Rose never did give in. I think Denver had better watch out.

We couldn’t test out Rose’s restaurant choice because Matt’s vaccination card was securely stored in his car back in Michigan, and none of the restaurant staff had any idea what “V Safe” (an app from the CDC that follows up on how you felt after your shots) was, so we defaulted to a hamburger bar with outdoor seating back at Union Station.

Which is a little nutty when you think about it, that we could sit outside for two hours in Denver days after Thanksgiving, but they were two of the sunniest hours I’ve encountered recently.

I have to confess, I went into Thanksgiving not feeling festive or particularly thankful, even though I understand there is much in my life to appreciate. But my long, social weekend, which admittedly taxed my flabby social muscles, also restored me.

So I am thankful for friends like Bob and Rita who break bread (and turkey) with me; and for Pete and Nancy, who cheerfully drove me all over the Greater Metro area and who would have driven me up to Greeley today to see mutual friends Fred and Wendy had I not needed to return to work; for family, especially my mom and most especially my stepdad John, who was prepared to drive me clear to Gunnison in the event of a bus overflow issue.

And I am thankful, particularly, that the factors of time and distance have not dimmed my lasting friendship with the Gaylen family, who took me in and made me part of their own in the days Before Lynn. In the minutes leading up to the arrival of my bus at Union Station, Matt was booking a car rental to drive me to Gunnison.

It was so tempting to take him up on that offer, to spend more precious hours with him, but he had shelves to install and co-workers to meet, although he doesn’t really need to do anything to give Rose her wings, because he and his wife Nan have already done a fine job of that, and in the end the bus wasn’t overcrowded so I boarded, waving to the best sort of friends anyone could ever hope for, and headed home to the nuclear family I already missed terribly, even though it had only been 50-some hours away.

Spending too much time dwelling on the greater world around me I failed to appreciate the microcosm of the world I inhabit, which is the good lesson I gleaned from the long weekend. I hope your Thanksgiving went as well.

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