The Wild West – Part IV

Denver Adventure – Final Chapter

Just as my life took this new turn, so did the weather. January rang out the comfortable mild days and rang in frigid temperatures and blizzards of snow. I was amazed how dramatically Denver’s winter vacillated between sunny warmth and biting cold. Thankfully, after every tempest the sun quickly returned, and the mounds of snow melted rapidly.

My Crabtree & Evelyn gig was over, except for occasional hours here and there. So, I could no longer postpone the existential fact that I had to find a real job. And soon. Right after the new year I started the search in earnest.

It was tough.

Not having a car curtailed my options. In fact, it was a huge obstacle. Before responding to any advertisement, I had to be certain the bus route near me would service the office’s location. One prospect seemed to be a good fit. The University of Denver was looking for a secretary for the Business Department Dean. I was amply qualified, loved academic environments, and knew free classes might be a perk. Best of all, the campus was on my bus route.

Thank God for Irish luck. The university called me soon after I mailed my resume, and an interview was scheduled.

The Big Day arrived. Bedecked in high heels and a navy-blue power suit, I must have been quite a comical sight walking on the shoulder of the four-lane highway, making my way to the bus stop as cars incessantly whizzed by.

I didn’t care.

I was excited. The University was lovely, the interview went well, and I enjoyed the people I met. On the ride home I was tired but optimistic.

While I awaited news of my fate, I continued journal writing, reading, going to the mall, and walking in the park. But I wasn’t relaxed anymore, and I wasn’t having fun. I became increasingly consumed by fear and uncertainty. Lack of income was a pressing concern, and I was beginning to feel quite desperate.

One day I grabbed three dollars, the only cash I had on hand, and put it in my jeans pocket to buy some milk and cottage cheese at the Circle K convenience store after my daily walk. These staples would tide me over until my next paycheck arrived from Crabtree & Evelyn.

Standing at the checkout counter with my precious sundries, I reached into my pocket. To my dismay and horror, nothing was there! I checked several times. There was no money in my pocket. I was embarrassed and told the cashier I must have lost it on my walk. I had no choice but to leave the items at the store and go home empty-handed.

On the way back to my apartment I was quite calm, which surprised me given the situation. As I opened my door, I heard an authoritative voice somewhere inside me say: “Don’t worry about money. It is not your true sustenance.” The words were startling, yet a sense of peace washed over me. I literally had NO money, but I felt perfectly safe and comforted. I knew in that moment everything was okay.

How odd.

And then it got odder.

After entering the apartment, I absentmindedly put my hand in my pocket and…magic! My fingers pulled out three dollars.


I was utterly flummoxed. Was this some weird metaphysical shapeshifting, where something disappears and then reappears? It was a total mystery. I shrugged it off and walked back to the store to get my food. As I paid the cashier, I smiled a Cheshire Cat grin and chuckled, shaking my head in disbelief.

During the ensuing weeks, still waiting for The Call, another odd thing happened. My long-deceased grandfather began hovering over me, a tangible presence. I could even smell the cigars he used to smoke. This invisible apparition was not unpleasant, but it was a bit smothering. I also felt his insistent prodding. I was being nudged to do something. Something I would never think to do and certainly did not want to do.

Before I continue, I need to provide a little background for this strange tale. When I was packing for the move to Denver, I made a nonsensical decision to bring the diamond ring my grandfather had bequeathed to me in his will. As a little girl I cooed over that gem’s pretty sparkles, and my awe always amused him. I’m guessing that’s why he chose me to be the ring’s custodian upon his death.

There was no reason to bring this jewel with me to Denver. It’s not like I could wear it. After all, it was a large man’s ring. But I guess I couldn’t bear thinking of its light being quelled, deeply buried in the bowels of my brother’s gloomy basement.

Anyway, the cattle prod kept poking me, and words streamed like a banner across my cortex: “Sell the diamond.” I was in dire need of money, for sure, but I still resisted the suggestion. This was my most cherished talisman. It would crush my heart to sell it. But the weeks were passing without any word from the University, and I began to lose hope. The situation was becoming unsustainable.

At last, I succumbed to the pesky prompting and went over to the jewelry store to get the ring appraised. What could it hurt to know what it was worth? It appraised for $3,000. The clerk really liked the stone and offered me $1,500 for it. I still didn’t want to sell. I left the store clutching the appraisal in my hand.

I awoke the next morning knowing I had to do it. No job. No income. No prospect for either. The only viable choice was to sell the diamond so I could finance my return to Washington. So, I did the deed.

As soon as the diamond was sold, my grandfather’s spirit dispersed, as quickly as his presence had descended. It was a visceral sensation of swift departure. I guess his work was done.

Flush with cash, I leapt into action and started preparing for the move back east. I returned the typewriter. I trashed the mounds of paper upon which I had vomited my demons. I notified the rental office of my upcoming departure, learning I would have to forego my security deposit for breaking the lease. I started packing boxes to mail. Laurie kindly offered to transport to Goodwill anything I couldn’t take with me. I bought an airline ticket.

I was starting to feel good at last, and ready to move on.

And then…

In the middle of packing boxes and deciding what to leave for Laurie to shepherd to Goodwill, I received The Call.

Oh, my goodness, I was floored. They apologized for the long wait. There was an explanation provided, but I don’t recall what it was. They offered me the job. I grappled with this surprising turn of events. I had already resigned myself to letting go of the road I was not going to travel! It was too late to reverse course. The train was too far down the tracks. With regret (but not as much as I expected) I declined the offer and explained I was moving back to Washington.

And that was that.

My Denver sojourn lasted five months. I suppose most would say it was a failure. Certainly, things didn’t work out as I had hoped. But this experience was a crucial juncture, a pivotal turning point in my life. It was an ideal opportunity to regroup and recharge. I discovered what I was made of in the face of significant challenges. I learned to trust uncertainty. My faith in human goodness was restored. I conquered the specter of financial privation, endured loneliness and isolation, confronted many fears, and healed the wounds of my checkered past. I was abundantly rewarded by this adventure in many unanticipated ways.

Most importantly, it fortified me to begin life anew. Isn’t that success?

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