The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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On the Way to Moab (Brighton, CO)

Driving from Minneapolis to Denver means being in the car for 14 hours and traveling 900 miles. It is a zen experience, like an all-day sesshin, that empties your mind of everything but very fast forward motion. Although it’s slightly unpleasant, I like it, because it creates a “gap” in my experience, a small rip in the fabric of my mind, separating me from my immediate past. This small tear allows me to see myself anew—the person who is really looking back in the mirror—rather than relying on the old images stuck in my head. It’s probably why Rembrandt kept painting himself. He didn’t want to miss one facet of his face as he aged.

Brighton

Anyway, the idea was to get as close to Denver International as possible, so we stopped at an old railroad town named Brighton, which has now become an exurb of Denver. Although it has rows of new apartment buildings, a megamall, and strip malls along the major roads, Brighton is a pleasant place with a sense of history. My funniest encounter was at a local coffee chain named Dazbog Coffee that was started by two Russian emigrants from Leningrad. When I told the manager that I always avoided Starbucks and asked about her other competition in the area, she pointed west across the river and said that there were two new coffee houses over there in old churches that had decimated her business. I didn’t comment. It’s how it is in the United States. You can always count on a competitor to eat your lunch, or in this case, steal your coffee business.

This encounter had one positive outcome (besides the fact that the espresso was good), which was that I discovered the city of Brighton had built a extensive walkway along the banks of the South Platte River. Since the Platte is sandy and unruly, and creates bogs and swamps along its banks, it provided a pleasant hour-long walk that got the cobwebs out of my head the next morning before driving to the airport.