If you’re tired of hearing me complain about Denver, you should probably just move on, because when I wrote this last night, I’d had a very bad day and was in a foul mood. Instead of hitting the publish button right away, I decided to let it percolate overnight and give it 24 hours to see if anything I wrote was merely the product of the day I’d had.
So you’ve been warned. Proceed at your own risk.
When that day finally comes and we are leaving Denver for the last time, I can say without any reservation whatsoever, that I will not be shedding a single tear.
When I left San Francisco back in 2002, there was sadness, but I also knew it was time to go. I still hold many, many fond memories and friendships forged during the sixteen years I lived there, and will always treasure the time I spent in The City.
And if I hadn’t left SF, I never would’ve met Ben. So there’s that.
But the same can not be said of the godforsaken hellhole we now call home. Granted, over the past three years, there have been brief periods of happiness (usually only in response to acquiring some new toy or last year when Ben and I got married) and there was an initial sense of elation at escaping the Arizona summers, but on the whole, that deep-seated happiness, that joie de vivre, has been absent from my life. In many ways, last two and a half years has been nothing more than one disappointment after another and at times it feels like a daily battle to simply keep the demons of full blown depression at bay.
And that’s not even taking into account the last fourteen months with the drug addict living in the guest room.
There is nothing about being here that I will miss after we leave, and I am reasonably certain that when looking back upon it I will refer to this period of my life as “Five years in Hell.” There are no fond memories of this place aside from simply having spent it with Ben, and no real friends to prompt a return visit at any point. When the truck is packed and we are heading down I-25, my parting gesture to this city will be a rigid upturned middle finger from both hands.
Since there was some major reorganization happening and my department pretty much scattered to the four winds during the year after I left Phoenix, I can’t say with any certainty that I’d still be working for that particular employer had we stayed, but if we did I’d be making $12K a year more than I am here—and paying half of what I am in rent, both of which are constant, unwelcome reminders of what I sacrificed—albeit willingly, and by conscious choice—to go on this adventure.
The two jobs I’ve had in Denver, both taken out of desperation (the first because I’d run out of money after we moved here and the second because after 3 months of contracting I simply didn’t want to face being out of work again and having to interview) were both unwilling to pay the average salary that every payroll survey in the country says I should be making in this location. At least in Phoenix I was being paid what my skills and experience were worth.
And the weather? Yeah, the summers in the Valley were getting to be a pain, but at least you knew when to expect them to begin and end. Arizona doesn’t follow daylight savings time, but the old schedule (April thru October) at least corresponded pretty closely to the time you turned the air conditioning on and off there. In Denver, the weather is completely off the rails, and the only two months where there is absolutely no snowfall on record are July and August. Two fucking months. Even Arizona’s heat didn’t screw you over like that, and when it was done for the year, you knew it. Not so in the Mile High City. I’m getting very tired of seeing “clear and sunny” as the forecast for the next five days, washing the car and then waking up the next day to see that 3-4 inches of fucking snow had come out of nowhere overnight. I might as well just feed fifteen dollars into a shredder for all the satisfaction I get from a car wash.
And speaking of high, I’m convinced pretty much most of this city is stoned out of their minds—if only when they get behind the wheel, because no one seems to know where the fuck they’re going until they’re a half second away from making their turnoff. Or they aren’t paying attention. Or maybe it’s because there is no logic whatsoever to the way streets are laid out here—forcing people to make the asinine moves that have become a regular and expected part of my commute—or timing of stop lights, or the fact that street names seem to change on a whim as you go from one point to another. I’m rapidly reaching the point where I simply don’t want to go anywhere any more because I can’t deal with the stupid that invariably crosses my path within two or three minutes of leaving the house.
I know I’m not the best driver, and if anything I’m overly cautious at times, but MY GOD, at least I follow the rules of the road that were taught me in Driver’s Ed. I don’t remember drivers in Phoenix—or even the Bay Area being as horrible as they are here!
There are four things the majority of people driving in Denver seemingly have absolutely no understanding of:
- Stop Signs
- Speed Limits
- Solid Painted Lines on the Pavement
- Proper following distance
Stop signs? They don’t even attempt rolling stops here. People just regularly blow through them; a tap of the brake lights if you’re lucky. I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more collisions.
Speed limits? It’s either 20 miles an hour under, or 20 miles an hour over whatever the sign says.
Solid lines? IT MEANS DO NOT CROSS OVER, ASSHOLES. You see that traffic on the freeway is slowing down? Cut across three lanes and half of the gore point to get off and exit because it’s all about YOU.
Following distance? Forget the three second rule. Denver drivers don’t even follow a one second rule. Leaving enough room between yourself and the car in front to stop in an emergency is an open invitation for some asshole to force his way in because his lane is going too slow.
Denver has dual lane metered freeway onramps, like many municipalities. But unlike Phoenix, where the stop light alternates from one lane to the other, in Denver they both get the green light at the same time, so it’s an instant race to see who gets merged into traffic first because it’s all about MEEEEEEEE!
And with each passing day it’s more and more obvious that traffic engineers in Denver don’t want to facilitate the flow of traffic; they want to impede it as much as possible. Why else would one stop light turn green—and just as you start moving, the next light—half a block away—turn red? Why is there no consistency anywhere with left turn signals? Some are before the light in both directions, some are after. Some are before the light in only one direction, while others are after. IT MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.
The only positive thing I have to say about Denver is that we’ll be leaving in approximately two years. And believe me, I’m counting down the days. The only reason we’re still here is so Ben can fulfill his obligations to the Denver Teacher Residency program and get about $17K worth of student loans paid for, no small chunk of change and something I would never disallow him.