Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Written back in March, posted 2021-07-14. Discusses a mass shooting.
I moved out of Boulder almost a decade ago. Writing this now, I don’t remember if I thought I was making a decision about leaving Boulder. I think I figured I’d be back sooner or later. I was just getting worn out on living in basements, my landlords upstairs were about to have a baby, and it seemed like time to make a change. When I went to look, it turned out I could rent a massive old 3 bedroom house in one of the L-towns for what a decent above-ground apartment was running in Boulder.
When I left, the exodus of most people I knew in town was just getting underway. The stuff that made it permanent seems pretty concrete and inescapable now, but it accumulated gradually. One formulaic conversation about real estate and the money moving in at a time; the same story as every other place in America that people from somewhere else want to live.
Looking back on it now, those two years in a basement in South Boulder were the best that town ever treated me. Martian Acres, with Martin Park for a back yard. The bike path all the way out to Gunbarrel for work, or jamming onto the crowded bus up Broadway. Beers at the Southern Sun, breakfast at the Walnut Cafe to go with the hangovers.
There’s nothing much extraordinary about that part of town. As far as I know, it’s just 1950s and 60s development that grew into something lived in. Cheap little ranch houses on irrationally curving streets. It felt a little more real than the places the money had completely eaten by then, and by virtue of that reality also maybe a little weirder in the way things around here are supposed to be weird. They get fewer by the year, but Boulder as I knew it was a place of little pocket-universe neighborhoods. You’d find yourself in some hidden corner and think: This is how it used to be. This is why people keep coming back.
People in that part of town were good to me. It’s the part I always feel like I can still imagine living in.
There are things you remember about a neighborhood. Mundane but also defining. I wind up with strong opinions about grocery stores. The Table Mesa one was my favorite King Soopers around here. Nice produce selection, friendly people at the checkout.
A couple of days ago, a guy walked in the door there and shot ten people to death with, most probably, an AR-15 knockoff. Nobody I know died, though I was as worried about that as I’ve ever been during one of these.
Some unbelievable asshole was streaming from the parking lot on YouTube during all of this. I watched more of it than I feel good about, with a more acute version of that same sick dread you feel when a tornado is bearing down on somewhere you know.
This is the weather in America. If you live in a place where the violence is usually at a distance, you put it in the mental background. You figure today probably isn’t the day a mass murder hits while you’re picking up groceries or going to work. Most days aren’t. You’d take sensible precautions but there aren’t any to take. It’s like living in tornado alley, but you can’t look for a house with a basement.
I hate my country.