The Denver Diaries: Chapter 2 – September 2013
Having become so fond of Denver so quickly, I decided that I would stay and try to find work as soon as possible since a week’s stay at the hostel cost me about $115 and I had only brought $900 with me to Colorado, and I began job-searching ferociously. Within a matter of weeks, I had applied at over thirty-five different places of employment, ranging from novelty and souvenir shops to branches of the library, from non-profit organizations to book stores and movie theatres. I began to worry about what would happen when mid-September rolled around and the white of snow could be seen on the mountaintops in the distance. My initial plan to cross the Rockies and head South into Arizona was definitely not going to happen now… job or no job.
When I wasn’t scouring the city looking for work, I was often out sightseeing or visiting the Denver Public Library or the Denver Art Museum. I was immediately impressed by the size and quality of both, which had far exceeded my expectations, and proved to be a welcome diversion from my financial and living conditions. The museum and the library both would become my havens; places where I could not only go to be out and about among people, but also somewhere I could go when needing quiet, contemplative time. The library was, and still is, a wonderful resource that has provided me with hours of entertainment in addition to being the main source of all my research for the essays I’ve been working on since my arrival here in Denver. I hope that in time I may find myself employed at one of the local branches of the DPL. It’d be a dream job.
Things at the hostel had become, well, interesting, to put it mildly, as I met the various people passing through and staying there. Sleep became a precious commodity, which I soon realized I had long taken for granted, that was denied me amidst a chorus of snoring men in the room. Most of the guests at the hostel were amicable enough, and there were even a few whom I came to enjoy, among them another Sean (one of many I’ve met here in Colorado), who was kind enough to treat me to a vegetarian Chinese meal when I was running out of money for groceries. Of all the visitors staying there, I was one of the few Americans, and this was a wonderful change for me as I had known so few international travellers having grown up in such a small town. I met people from Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Germany, South Africa, France, Russia, Israel, Bangladesh, China, Japan, and Switzerland all while staying at the hostel. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such a diverse, eclectic, and eccentric group of people. Though I did miss sleeping soundly.
There were a few nights at the hostel where the lack of sleep was compensated for by free entertainment. One night in particular was memorable for its eventfulness and surrealism. While I was staying there, a Russian who had been begrudgingly stranded here in America, had made the habit of going out to gamble and returning both heavily intoxicated and menacingly grouchy. Even more than myself, he was angered by any disruptions to his sleep, and on this particular night he wasn’t going to tolerate much. People would come and go at all hours, and it wasn’t uncommon to not know who was staying in the room until it was time to settle in for the night, so when a drunk man wondered into the room in only his underwear, I was unsure of whether or not he was staying in our room. When he paused in front of me and looked me in the eye, without recognizing me, it became more than clear to me that he had no idea he was in the wrong room. Stunned speechless, I gestured to the door leading to the hallway, hoping that he would remain quiet and not disturb the other hostelers on his way out. However, not only did he not comprehend that he was in the wrong, not only did he not comprehend my gesture to leave, he also failed to comprehend which room he was going into and what bed was his. He walked into the room adjoining mine, sat down on Sean’s bed, and then proceeded to remove his underpants. At this, Sean woke up realizing that someone was on his bed, and in a panic uttered out “What the – ?!” in his thick Irish accent, before the drunken intruder could respond, “Oh, oh shit. Wrong room,” and then drunkenly stumble out into the hall with his underwear suspended at his knees and his chubby buttocks fully exposed. Somewhere between being shocked, horrified, and greatly amused, Sean rushed into my room and burst out, “What was all that about?!” Stifling laughter, I began to whisper to him that a drunk hosteler from down the hall had mistaken our room for his, to which Sean began to respond before being interrupted by the drunken Russian who hollered threateningly, “It’s one o’clock in the fuckin’ morning. Don’t you know you are in a fuckin’ hostel. Other people are trying to sleep!”
Sean, understandably upset, attempted to explain, “Aye, mate, but some bloody fool just came in here naked…”
“I don’t give a fuck! Haven’t you ever stayed in a hostel before. This is unacceptable. If this was Russian army, I’d have you both beaten,” the Russian responded.
At this, Sean almost reacted out of outrage, but I managed to calm him down, and he went back to bed making sure to lock the door to the room and leave the light on. Just to be on the safe side.
When another hosteler, Tim, a fellow American traveller, came home a few hours later, I met him out on the fire escape that overlooks the back alley and parking lot, where I explained the events of the night so he would be forewarned of flaring tempers and comical behavior. As he was explaining his own bizarre nightly encounter, who but the naked drunken man from down the hall should wander out into the hall. Seeing us outside, and realizing he was more than a little under dressed, the drunk man stumbled back into his room (or at least I assume that this was his room, though it’s distinctly possible he had made the same mistake twice, and wandered into someone else’s room again), and returned wrapped in a blanket. He bummed a cigarette and then fell asleep on the fire escape with it dangling in his mouth. Tim and I spent the rest of the night going over the details of the whole thing and laughing until the wee hours of the morning. Neither of us were going to forget this.
Without even being too aware of it, my birthday had reared its ugly head again, and I would soon turn twenty-eight, though in all truth I have always felt much older than my biological age. Financially destitute, alone in a new place, and on my way to malnourishment, I was, unsurprisingly not in the best of spirits the week of my birthday. It didn’t bother me in the least being so far from family or friends, as outside of my mother my family never really acknowledged my birthday, and I hadn’t had birthday parties with friends since I was about eight or so. My birthday would be a small affair. But a welcome surprise came when my best friend, all too aware that I had no one to celebrate it with and was without food and money, ordered me an extra large, by which I mean gigantic, vegan pizza from socially conscious and environmentally friendly pizza chain, Pizza Fusion. The pizza was delicious as evidenced by the rare appearance of the wide grin on my face in the below photo.
Despite this joyful and much appreciated reprieve, life was about to take a turn, and I would find myself in even more dire circumstances. Homelessness was on the horizon.
To be continued…