Denver, CO. USA

It was really easy. I’ve done it before in New York City. Get a plane ticket and figure out the rest later. It’s obviously scary to think that one would end up sleeping in the park with who knows what kind of weird people around there. This time, I bought a ticket to Denver, Colorado. I figured that I’d stay with someone I met over couchsurfing.com, Colin, a dude my age, with particular fascination for soccer. I had everything arranged from the day before but, of course, I forgot the time taken through the security line. Some people say O’Hare is unsafe but I’m pretty sure they haven’t been checked everywhere, like, everywhere. With help from my friend Dima, I made it back to his place, where people planned Angabin’s birthday. Long story short, I went clubbing with my friends. Next day I bought a new ticket. I am determined to go to Denver.

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Travelling across the US is not as boring as it might seem. The mountains and the valleys are incredible. I arrived to Denver International Airport at 10:00 p.m. that Monday. A mid-thirties-looking guy holding a dog’s lace from across the parking lot was waiving at me as he attempted to text me one more time. Steven is the guy who I was supposed to meet. We arranged everything from couchsurfing.com. It’s a really great source for travelers, like that time Levan and I got lost in Kusadasi, Turkey, but that’s another story. This guy introduced himself one more time and introduced me to his dog, Dakota. Once in the car, I thanked him for picking me up and let me stay at his place. His home is a nice house at the east of Denver, close to the Museum of Natural Sciences. For all we know, I was grateful. Last time I almost slept at the airport. Steven showed me his place, which was; if I say postmodern, I am exaggerating. Minimalistic, practical, and the wood made it somehow rustic. I bought a membership for a month to use Denver public bicycle system, which allowed me to go to everywhere on Denver, literarily everywhere.

What I saw there is nothing like the words I am about to write. It’s probably a thousand times better. The city is clean, everyone walks dogs, everyone seems happy and helpful, even the homeless (which are quite aggressive in New York). I wonder if it’s due to the legalization of cannabis or the low crime rate? Denver is a safe city with great museums, stores, parks, and libraries. If one takes a taxi from the far east of the city, where the Museum of Natural Sciences is, to the far west of the city, where Union Train Station is, everything seems fine. I mean, the numerical names of the streets and the order make sense, the river around the center of the city is clean and has great urban art, and everything is on point. Except when one reaches Broadway Avenue. Then, everything is chaos. The diagonal avenue in the middle of a squared city is just not convenient. I believe there should be a reason why it exists, like congregating people for local businesses. Whatever the reason might be, my opinion doesn’t change, it’s inconvenient. Listening to punk rock I biked to all possible touristic attraction there is in Denver. Everyday I ended up exhausted so I couldn’t hang out with Steven during the first days.

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The next morning, Steven asked me if I wanted to do something. I asked him to show me the club scene. I believe that, anthropologically, clubs are a resourceful way to immerse oneself into the culture. It’s also a great way to meet people and the music, not always, is fantastic. So, he told me we would go to this bar named Tracks. I knew it was a gay bar but I wouldn’t care, I once had gone with my brother just for fun. That night, surprisingly enough, the club wasn’t anything like I expected it. First of all, everyone can come in. I mean, everyone. Young people (as old as 18), old people (not limit), gay, straight, transgender, women, men, everyone was there. The bar only served alcohol to those older than 21 though. I was determined to dance as much as I can; I like the feeling of jumping to the beat of an EDM song. After thinking that I kind of have to get to know my host, I  decide to have a beer with Steven. He told me about his life and I told him about mine. I talked about how much I like travelling, getting to know people, and overall, exploring. He told me about how he liked to receive travellers in his home because if he can’t travel the world, the world can come to his place. We talked for a long time. He told me about his job. He was a psychoanalyst. It is pretty fun to talk to a psychoanalyst because you never know what kind of weird questions you get to ask. I asked him about love, spirit, perception of the self, schools of thought, etc. A common thing in his questions was how I felt about something he said, about something that just happened, or about something that I talked to him about previously. It wasn’t really a trouble, I recognized that he has that job for a reason, he must definitely like to interrogate people, you know, getting to know them. Don’t get me wrong; I guess it should be incredible to be able to talk with people from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, and different nationalities.

I accepted to go out with him once more, but this time he had invited me to a party. I was kind of hesitant about a party. Generally, I don’t go to parties where I am not invited, I hate being the plus one. I don’t go to parties where I don’t know anyone. Anyhow, I couldn’t resist the need to be ‘adventurous’ and attend the party. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually meet someone nice there. A spacious apartment with eight men paired talking to the beat of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ and playing beer pong. Not minding being the plus one anymore, I noticed something unfamiliar about the couples. One of the partners was considerably older than the other one. I don’t mean pedophile-like kind of unfamiliar. I mean just at least 20 years difference. The youngest man, named Sam, was 20. I had the opportunity to talk to Sam just because I thought he’s the one I can relate the most in this environment. Honestly speaking, Sam is like any other people I’ve talked to back at my college in Illinois. He’s just into older guys. I don’t know if there is a term for these kinds of parties but if there is, it should be savage sausage party or something. Bored out of my mind, I asked Steven if we could go. This is when I began noticing his increasing interest on me. He introduced me to his friends, I played a couple of beer pongs, and I was ready to go after a while. Nothing weird happen, it was just a lame party.

On the way back Steven was overly protective. Are you ok? Was that too much for you? What did you think about the party? Far from thinking about the party, I was thinking about my role in the party. Was I the ‘young’ guy to him at the party or something? That night I couldn’t sleep. I reflect on what I had told him before and on what I was going to say next morning when I had to leave back to Chicago. To be honest, I behaved like a complete ass from then on. I was the worst guest that you could find on couchsurfing.com. I was late everywhere, I told him things I wouldn’t do in the city, and I was overall dirtier than usual. I had no idea it would work but somehow it made him progressively push me away. In other circumstances, I would have get out of the house and stay in a hotel or something. But I wanted to know what were my limits on handling people and I wanted to experiment how could I deal with unsettling situations. Next morning, I took an Uber back to the airport and you won’t believe whom I found! Colin was driving the car. I’m pretty sure he didn’t recognize me, or I didn’t want him to, after I had cancelled when I missed my flight the first time. Listening to Vampire Weekend I said goodbye to Colin and got into that Frontier airplane headed to Chicago. I can’t wait to see who I meet next time traveling.

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