By 2pm Erica and I have located Cam’s trusty blue Nissan minivan in a neighborhood of Boulder, CO. Cam lives five hours away from here, and how his van ended up in Boulder is a long story, but it is now my job to drive it headlong into the Rockies and deliver myself – and his van – at his doorstep in Crested Butte.
I step in, turn the keys, and smile when I notice the fly fishing lures dangling from the car roof above my head. I’ve read countless poems about Cam’s van, his collection of flies, and the historic significance of hanging them from his car roof. Rolling out of town in his van feels like driving from the belly of a good friend, bringing a little something back home that he needs, and strengthening our friendship that much more.
Five hours later…
“Welcome to the Butte, Schultzy,” Cam says. He’s smiling that wide mad-poet smile, eyes peering out from beneath his winter mop of hair. “Drink the water, yo, and breathe deep.”
I tell him I’m on my 15th glass of water for the day. I walk upstairs to the kitchen for another glass and am out of breath. 9,000 feet elevation. I’ve backpacked at 12,000 so I’m still amazed at how hard this all is, and I keep drinking water nonetheless. Cam and his housemates talk bro-bra ski-talk code-whatcha-sayin’, pouring over catalogs and dreaming up road trips. I laugh and ask for translations, then grow silent and listen to the jargon of their lives. It’s nothing to them, but it’s amazing to me and I’m intrigued by the way they live. Already, it feels like I could stay here for weeks.
I eat a goat cheese quesadilla while Cam reads me poetry out loud. It’s been over a year since we’ve seen each other but we’ve done so much work together and motivated each other. He’s read all my MFA work, I’ve read his thesis, his newest work, his heartache poems, his fishing victories. But to hear his poems in his own voice again is such a gift.
I settle onto the futon and there it is, good friends, the ease of talk, the comfort knowing the next day is ahead of us. “You’re easy Schultzy, an easy house guest. You like to read in the mornings. We can ski, too. You’re golden.”
“You know it’s going to be hard for me,” I say, meaning the skiing.
“I know,” he says, but his tone of voice is reassuring. “Look, I’ll get you started but then I’m going to have to take off and haul ass. I gotta move during my time off in the mornings so I don’t go crazy working double shifts during the week.”
The house winds down early, which I appreciate, and Cam even gives me his bed and a clean towel for the morning. I am impressed and happy. My worries about homework, perhaps foolishly, have temporarily subsided. This is vacation. This is connection. This is adventure – my first trip to Colorado and already some skiing planned and free rentals since Cam works at the shop. Yes!