The Labor Day Trip – 2003 IV

To my surprise, Jim answered the door and I said, “Here’s your Sunday paper, sir.” Not having a clue who I was, he simply said, “Thank you for bringing it to my door.” I walked away a few steps, turned around and took off my sunglasses, and exclaimed, “Jim, it’s me!” His eyes got big as saucers, and we had a good laugh over my little act of deception. We reminisced over old friends with whom we had worked, and Jim up-dated me on what was going on in Denver, architecture-wise. It was a fun time with an old friend.

Back at King Soupers, I used the outside pay phone to call a bunch of friends and my one family member in Denver, cousin Paula. Hubby Jerry answered, saying Paula was out for the evening. I asked about their plans for Labor Day, and he said they were going out with some friends. I replied, “You know, Jerry, I’ve gotten into the habit of e-mailing ahead, but I left in kinda of hurry and just plumb forgot to let you know of my plans. But, what’s the dif? I’m glad you two are getting a night out on the town. As hard as you guys work, you deserve a little R & R now and then. I’ll catch you next time.” Incidentally, the Perrons work with children who have learning disabilities

I got in touch with my best friend in Denver, Tom Reilly (former co-worker at RNL Architects). I kiddingly asked him. “Aren’t you and Fran having a Labor Day picnic at (nearby) Washington Park?” He said, “No way. Come on over and see us.” We made plans to get together around noon on Labor Day. I relaxed at a curb-side picnic table out in front of King Soupers reading a discarded Rocky Mountain News. It was a perfectly cool and calm Colorado evening. A security guard happened by, so I tapped his sympathetic nature by asking if I could spend the night in the auxiliary parking lot across the street, giving my usual song-and-dance routine that I was on my way back to Gunnison. He bought it and granted me a one night stand in my favorite corner under the cottonwood.

I had a peaceful night’s sleep, thanks to an overnight temperature in the 50s, and better still, not having to worry about a security guard banging on the cargo door window at 3 am. After getting some delectables from the King Souper Deli, I made my way over to Tom’s place. He couldn’t wait to show off his new addition to the back of their modest little house – a grandiose master bedroom and bath, resplendent with a high ceiling and lots of natural light. It was like something he owed to himself, to really have a place to be proud of. I was really happy for him. Curious for a comparison, I asked to see their former bedroom. I said. “Geemonee, Tom, if you don’t mind me saying, this looks like a cheap motel room compared to what you have now.” He just smiled and said, “That’s okay, you’re absolutely right. I plan to refurbish this room into a guest bedroom.” He then led me to the old bathroom where he had wall-mounted a framed watercolor of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in New Mexico that I had given him several years ago. It was a gratifying surprise.

We retired to the living room where Tom and I rehashed old times at RNL, especially the memorable on-site design sessions in such exotic places like Santa Fe (our favorite), Cheyenne, Crested Butte. Albuquerque. Greeley (Colorado), and even Wichita (the one in Kansas). Those were the best of times at RNL. We up-dated each other on old friends. I told him of seeing Jim Henderson just the day before, and that he had retired from the interior design world. I somewhat astonished Tom with the news of how a year ago I had visited Linda Eddy/Stolte up in Golden and found out that John Gaudreau had been an ordained minister at her church for the last eight years. I said, “Tom, you wouldn’t believe how the man has changed, from that wisenheimer we knew at RNL to a compassionate, sincere human being. How do you remember him?” Tom had one word: “Arrogant.” We exchanged amicable smiles.