"Stuck" in Denver
Building out a van is intricate and tedious; they aren’t exactly manufactured to be homes, so designing one to be a fully functional living space comes with a lot of, “I think this could go here,” and “Maybe we could do it this way instead.” Ninety degree corners are hard to come by and every piece of it needs to be custom to whatever odd curve you come across. Brandon could tell you a lot more about the process since he’s the one who built out the Craggin Wagon, but what I know about it is that it wasn’t easy, and there are countless parts that could malfunction at any time.
Somehow, almost every part malfunctioned throughout the month of December, including the battery-to-battery charger (this is what powers the “house” while we drive), the refrigerator/ freezer, water pump, and the entire electrical system altogether. To top it off, Brandon’s phone mysteriously stopped working, leaving us with only mine for a week to problem-solve getting the Wagon up and running.
We were about to leave Denver after the first week of December, when we realized we had to at least stick around to see Brandon’s long-time friend, Andy, who was coaching at an Olympic weightlifting meet in town. The plan was to see him and head to New Mexico afterwards, because what were the chances that we’d all ended up in the same city?
Things kept happening that delayed our departure; we’d decide to leave in the coming days and either something would break in the van, or we wanted to stay and visit another friend before heading out. It was almost maddening for me at the beginning of the month that we couldn’t leave, especially with the van feeling as though it was falling apart. Without the ability to plug the power system in at night, we were essentially immobile. Plus, cold weather was upon us and the original plan (the one that fit perfectly into the story I wanted to tell) was that we were headed south for warmer weather.
There were a couple of weeks during the month that I thought Brandon and I were going to lose it. Every part that broke down caused another inconvenience, making living out of a tin box, in piles of snow, increasingly challenging. We found our stress and frustration about the van masquerading as why the other person didn’t do the dishes or the laundry. It was this odd, revolving door of lashing out at each other, acknowledging that we were in a tougher-than normal living situation, and actively working out the kinks of what the other person needed, especially in times of high stress and tension.
Every piece of equipment that malfunctioned became yet another strike against our plan, it was obvious that we weren’t going to be leaving Denver any time soon. We agreed around the middle of the month that instead of trying to force the issue, we’d listen to what the Universe was offering, to stay another month in Denver while we sorted out all of the repairs.
We spent our time trying to experience as much of Denver as we could, hiking, trail running, and climbing, mostly indoors at Denver Bouldering Club. We’d fallen in love with the aptly named Golden, Colorado (suburb outside of Denver), and spent most of our hiking and running days there, on Apex Trail and South Table Mountain.
As December progressed, Brandon and I had stopped saying that we were stuck in Denver; instead we’d started putting air quotes around the word “stuck,” because it started to feel as if the city was keeping us there for a reason, one not yet revealed. Brandon had started to find a community of men in the area to connect with, and I was feeling optimistic about job opportunities that had started presenting themselves. Time rolled on, I continued to thank, whatever is out there, for scrapping the plans we made for something much much greater.
The month ended, ringing in the New Year with friends Sara and Shannon in Aspen, hiking in feet of snow, realizing we’d need to invest in better boots if we were going to spend any more time in the area. Our holidays were anything but normal, but I found myself in deep, thankful gratitude that we were in the process of manifesting the lives we’ve been looking for.
By, Trice Sweet