I spent the week in Denver working at a big conference. It’s the kind of event you can become lost in. But some of my closest friends and colleagues also attend. It was sweet to catch up with FryeShiners and others who have made the work so much more meaningful over the years.

Denver is a fun brew town. Good food, too. One of my friends, a Frye-league foodie, sets us up for a class reunion with Larimer Street culinary delight. This trip: Rioja. Last trip: Osteria Marco. Yummilicious. I only wish I’d had time for boutique shopping. It’s painful for a retail-deprived No Co girl to bypass all those great shops when in conference hustle.

It was an interesting week with cabbies. My first three were from Ethiopia. They all wanted to earn my airport return business and had various schemes to get it. The money is in the airport run. One offered a free short hop in exchange for my return fare. Another regaled with stories of his smart and successful American children. Another pled for more work to support his growing brood. One was driving a cab with windshield cracked cleanly from left to right and a heavily duck-taped interior, which does give a girl pause about repeat service. He wrote his phone number out on a generic business card. He was the only one I seriously considered for the return trip. In the end, it was just too much hassle. But just to keep it real, my final cabbie tried to overcharge by adding an airport gate fee. Busted!

Denver seems to have a lot of homeless people. One friend noted there are crazies on every corner. I’ve visited several times but somehow missed that it does seem more densely populated that way. There’s a huge homeless mission not too far from the conference center. Many linger nearby the 16th street pedestrian mall during the day, some with small children. Some are still wandering around and talking to themselves well into the evening.

The homeless make me uncomfortable on multiple levels. I’m disappointed in myself, wishing I had courage enough to interact in some helpful way. Maybe it’s compassion lacking in me. I’ve walked the few blocks between hotel and convention center briskly, eyes averted. As darkness fell, I’ve been careful to pace myself besides businessmen who seem to be going in my direction. I tell myself that if I lived in the community, it’d be different. I’d know how to help, who to try to help. I hope.

I was in Denver to work. I did a lot of that and I am exhausted. This year, as a staff member of the organization putting on the show, ramped up event intensity times ten. It also added an element of camaraderie to the conference I’ve not experienced before. It felt great to be a member of Team E. Everyone is exhausted.

This was the final trip in a long year of business travel. D.C. Baltimore. Austin. Chicago. Boulder. Indianapolis. Tampa. D.C. Boston. Baltimore. I am a travel lightweight in the organization but I am still feeling it. A few more hours of commitments here in Denver and then it’s home again, home again, jiggety jig. The Hubs will hardly stir as I settle back in. But even deep in his sleep, he’ll know I’m home.

~René Morley

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