Look West

Posted on Wednesday 7 May 2014

He is 95. He doesn’t look a day older than 70. I adore him. I am almost obsessed with him.

When he says he’ll root for my horse in the Derby, I know he will. When he says he will take the “lunch,” I know he won’t eat it. When he says, “I have to go…now,” I get it. I so get it.

My new guy has been here three months. I’ve been here two. Well, not here-here two months, actually two weeks. Might as well have been two months. Might as well have been three years for him.

I am a fish completely out of water here. But unlike being that fish in SoFla, Colorado makes it easy to find your current, to swim and float, almost without a care.

I don’t get the weather. I am learning that 75 today means 35 tomorrow, and don’t be surprised if there is snow on your windshield, but it’ll be gone by noon. I don’t get the traffic, but I know it’s better than the 24-7 rush hour on 95 South. I didn’t realize how few closed-toed shoes I owned. Or sweaters. Or everything else one needs for that still-undefined concept of “layers.”

I don’t get my skin and the wrinkles and folds I never knew I had. Turns out I live in a desert surrounded by snow-capped mountains. But, wow, are they beautiful, around every turn. The mountains, not my wrinkles.

“You really think its good?” he asks.

“I know it is,” I smile at him. Everything at this place is first class. The food, the caring workers, the residents.

“Okay, then. If you say so, I’ll take your word,” he grins. I love him.

He doesn’t eat a bit. He pushes his food around for the minimal amount of time, then attempts to move his wheelchair through the throng of three others in his way.

“You hated the lunch,” I tell him as I ask Grace if I can push her chair in just a bit to allow my new guy through.

“No, not at all!” he says.

“You lie,” I say.

“I lie,” he says.

“Really?” I ask.

He stares at me for the briefest of seconds, willing me to get him.

“Really not hungry,” he responds.

“Okay,” I say, willing him to get that I get him. That I get that he is not like the others, so much older though he is than them.

I am lost everywhere I go, not able to get my bearings.

“Just look for the mountains, you know, west,” laugh my kind coworkers, who chain smoke cigarettes and God knows what else here in legal green Colorado. Okay. Except I am used to looking east toward the ocean.

Geez, I miss that ocean, even if I never sat but a couple of times a year on its soft sandy beach.

But then it’s Easter. And I deliver baskets early to my daughter’s doorstep, which is easy to do, because she and her roommate live mere twelve steps above me. I make a lamb dinner; we play Monopoly. I pinch myself just to feel the joy of finally spending a holiday with my best baby girl. After all those vacant SoFla years.

“The lunch looked good,” he says. “I thought I was hungrier than I was.”

“You lie?” I ask him.

“Only a little,” he winks.

Because he doesn’t get having to sit next to those who can’t walk, or speak, or hear as well as he can, even though he is ten years their senior.

My marketing job is going well, but it’s only part time. I had to get something else, and I couldn’t stomach another restaurant. So, I took what I was begged to take, given, “You are so over qualified.”

I took it because I could walk there. I took it with an hourly and no tips. I took it because I think I have something to learn there.

I took it because I could find it, you know, by looking West. Where the sun sets.

18 Comments for 'Look West'

    May 10, 2014 | 5:17 pm

    Nice piece RG, good to see you back!

    Bob Rumble
    May 15, 2014 | 12:51 am

    Very pleased to see you back, hope the West suits you. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures in a new place.

    May 15, 2014 | 2:44 pm

    Another wonderful post!

    August 10, 2014 | 12:12 am

    Welcomed to the greatest state in the union, RG. And welcome to back to writing again – even if I’m months late in checking that bookmark I’ve kept over the years in my internet browser. Hope Colorado treats you well – I love this place more than anything – and I’ve been here twenty years. If you need any help, ideas or what have you – the email address is in the comment form.

    August 20, 2014 | 12:19 pm

    Hi there! This is my 1st comment here so I
    just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your articles.

    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the
    same subjects? Thanks a lot!

    September 29, 2014 | 6:55 pm

    How is Colorado working out for you?

    March 17, 2016 | 1:54 pm

    WOW RG… I know this post is old, and I know I’ve been long gone from reading your words, but wow. Your words never fail to paint a poignant picture.

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