During these fine Colorado summer months, Gary and I enjoy spending our evenings out on the back deck. I like calling it a deck instead of a porch because it makes me feel a little more refined and a little less like a peddler. (Read: Porches are for peddlers.) We have a pretty nice set-up back there: 2 white rocking chairs that we paid way too much for at Walmart (I didn't even know Walmart carried anything worth more than 75 dollars), and a stool my dad made about a good fifteen years ago that has one lonely coat of white primer on it, which - like an alarming number of other things in our home - we've just never quite gotten around to finishing. Sometimes we eat meals out there and dream of the day we'll be able to afford real patio furniture. Tonight was no exception. (Okay except it sort of was an exception since we weren't eating dinner; we were just sitting out there watching our dog run around. But I'm trying to build a story here, so back off.)
So we're sitting, rocking in our outrageously overpriced chairs, and I notice some birds flying up around our trees. Sometimes I like to tell Brutus to "go catch me a bird" and he likes to pretend like he doesn't understand what I'm saying and continue about his business, meticulously stripping every branch he can get his mouth around of all its bark. (Insert joke about stripping Brutus of all his bark. Hah.) So I yell at Brutus to "go catch me one o' them birds, boy!" to which Gary replies, "Those are bats."
Excuse me, (and I'll need you to pronounce this next word exactly as it is written in order to get the full effect) HWAHHT????
And upon further inspection, it turned out he was right. From that moment all I could see were little flying Halloween cookies. (Speaking of which, whoever designs those cookie cutters deserves a raise. Spot on.) Needless to say, I was both terrified and immediately overcome with a righteous anger. Shame on Colorado for hushing this up for so long!
Time to pull out the grungy hippie voice: "Yeah, come to Colorado, it's so awesome, we have mountains and lakes here, we won't care that you haven't touched up your highlights in a year because we're all dirty too, and you won't feel like you wanna drop dead from heat exhaustion every time you step outside your house, and you'll actually be able to wear on a semi-regular basis those Chacos you bought three years ago so you could fit in with all the rich, blonde deep-southerners at camp, and which, after that one month, you threw into the back of your closet for fear of being laughed out of Dallas society, and you'll start to feel like you might really love the outdoors...oh, and hey...we have bats here."
I'll always remember my first trip to Colorado. It was the summer after 5th grade. We drove up in our Ford Aerostar (Seen one on the road lately? That's because there are none left that still run.) and camped in Durango for a few nights. I remember driving through some winding mountain pass and being shocked and appalled at the lack of guardrails - I mean, can we call that an oversight? Maybe like the biggest one of all time? Maybe like one the size of a MOUNTAIN? - and feeling quite certain that at any moment we were all going to plummet to our deaths. Imagine me dying at age 12 and never having met Pudge Rodriguez in person. Talk about a close call.
I also remember that it stormed one of the nights we were camping, and I had just seen whichever of the Jurassic Park movies it is that has the giant T-Rex eyeball in the flap of the tent, so I'm pretty sure I wet my sleeping bag that night, although I don't so much remember that part.
The thing I remember most about that trip is a conversation I had with my dad about why everyone didn't live in Colorado. I think it went a little something like this:
"Why doesn't everyone move to Colorado?"
"Because there are no jobs in Colorado. Unless you want to work in a tourist trap."
This conversation is, I believe, in large part responsible for my mental image of Colorado for the next ten years: a wide, sprawling expanse of nothing but mountains and forests, dotted with little tee-pees in which you could purchase various colorful rocks and feathers.
I'm not sure when I started to consider the fact that either a) my dad was joking, or b) that conversation was just something I made up during the compulsive lying phase I went through around that time that somehow made its way into my long-term memory as an actual event.
Either way, I eventually ended up here anyway, despite my dad's warnings. Now, had his warnings included, alluded to, or even hinted at the word "bats", I might still be back in Dallas, enjoying some air conditioning and a full head of silky blonde hair. Instead, I'm sitting in my house in the Springs with my hair just about grown out (I can't bear to cut off the inch or so of blonde left at the bottom...it just feels like a part of me would be dying) and all the windows and doors boarded up. Brutus is never to be allowed outdoors again, because although I'll admit bats are small, I get the feeling that if a whole bunch of them got together, they could probably carry my dog off somewhere and eat him for dinner if they wanted to - and I just won't stand for that. The only creature (nocturnal or no) on this planet who has the right to threaten to cook and eat my dog for dinner if he pees on the carpet one more time is me.