Monday, July 28, 2014

Writers, Spiders and Glowing Moss, Part 3

It's a really funny thing. All of it's funny. I live in Denver, Colorado. I've lived here off and on for over thirty years. It's funny because there are significant enough breaks in my life here that I can honestly say that every time I moved to Denver, the place was vastly different than when I left. I think each time I've come back here I've liked the place less and less.

When I rolled into Denver in 1992, I was fresh back from the world. The pavement in Denver was newer then. The babyboomers were still young. Tattoos were not popular. There was not the amount of fat gross people then as now. The buildings and shops that were aging then are very suspect now—we have lots of fast food and weed shops. And above all, in 1992, there was at least a quarter to a third less people here.

Needless to say I find the place much less appealing now than ever. I would venture to guess most of the population here as well as just about everyone of my family and friends think I'm crazy. I find Denver to be dizzying, fast, full of cultural decline and aggressive apes. I mean, I wish I could enjoy the Denver experience. If only I liked the searing hot sun and the bicycle paths and the beer and the weed and the sports, well, it would make things different for sure.

Truth is, in Denver the weather is nice. There are plenty of great diversions and many of them you can share with like 60,000 of your closest friends. There's miles of hiking and biking trails that take you through really great places. There are parades and festivals and beer and sporting events every day. There's sunshine every day. But what if you don't care about that?

You can see for miles in the Mile High City.

This is the clearest place to see for miles. The skies are almost always the bluest thing I've ever seen. When you're on a hilltop, chances are, your view goes on for miles in 360 degrees. There are massive mountains to the west which viewed from here, miles away, seem like the final wall of the world and they run all the way north to south. On top of one of the foothills, you can see the distant eastern horizon when, if the world were flat, existence would just drop off. There is nothing to obstruct your view. Even the darkness of night will not obstruct your view.

I've often considered the value of location to the writer.

As I think about my novels, and where they are set, I wonder how much of location and familiarity with it has to do with the process of construction. Dysphoric Notions is set in Denver's uptown neighborhood. Undertakers of Rain is Portland, Oregon. And my forthcoming novel, Warehouses and Rusted Angels is set in Tucson, Arizona.

If I compare Denver with its vast area, dizzying people and vistas like eternity with say, the wilderness around Portland, Oregon which is slow, rainy, sluggish and overgrown, how does that influence me and my writing? When I think about the night in 1999 when my bag with my notebook was stolen from my car, it was also the same night I was walking dogs at Mt Tabor in Southeast Portland. That night I discovered moss on the forest floor that glows at night. Phosphorescent moss. In the dark forests of Oregon am I drawn inward because my outward view obscured? Or in the wilds of Denver, am I able to see the garbage of the world because it's so easy to see?

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