Au revoir, Paris.

I was scrolling through my FB feed last Friday while waiting for Jr to drift off to sleep on the baby monitor –  and suddenly there it was – a short simple statement that stopped me dead in my finger-flipping tracks:

My coffee house was closing.

Except it isn’t really MY coffee house – I haven’t gone there with any regularity in almost 10 years.

Andplusalso – it isn’t really my coffee house, because it has been pretty much EVERYBODY’S coffee house in the city and surrounding suburbs, at one point or another, in its 28 years in existence.  It isn’t MY coffee house – it is THE coffee house.

Mine is just one more love story to tell in a mountain of homage to a place that was equal parts rebellion, magic, familiarity, and genuine hard-earned character.

I was 15 the first time I went to Paris on the Platte.  I wasn’t QUITE supposed to be dating yet, but I was, a boy 7 years older than me at a time when that was a lifetime of difference (and when the last thing a girl wants to admit is that there is any difference at all.)  I would wager a guess that me and Older-boy had my male BFF in tow – so “it wasn’t a date”- the first time I saw Paris in all its smoky, jam-packed, weekend glory.  It was heaven. Older-boy broke my heart down the road a year or so, but he gave me Paris, and Paris never did.

At least one night a weekend was spent there for the majority of my high school existence – countless teenaged dramas unfolded there over Crowbars and Davidoff oval-shaped cigarettes…. break-ups, make-ups – marathon study sessions… marathon anything BUT study sessions.   A steady stream of dates ushered in and out by BFF, myself, and our tight-knit little group, all of whom  had not a chance of surviving the grilling the others would put them through over a few pots of java.  (Hell, we even judged you by what you did or didn’t put in your coffee.  Teenagers are tough critics.)

Senior year it was there we went the night before graduation – where else but the place we first found our wings would we all go the night before we were given permission to truly stretch them and try to fly?

Off everyone else went to college, but I felt drawn instead to the city, choosing to go to school downtown on a (way back then) commuter campus.  The night before I moved to my freshman apartment , I met up with a friend at Paris and came out to find the window of my Jeep had been smashed in (using a piece of the old 15th street viaduct they had torn down from above the dirt area where we used to park – I still have it to this day,) and my backpack stolen.  When the police officer asked for my address, I gave my parents’ and said “but I am moving down here tomorrow” and provided that address as well.  The officer smirked and said “heh heh, Welcome to the city.”

That’s the thing.

Paris was the first thing I loved about a city I would come to love more than that naïve, excited kid I was could ever know.

The first  year I was in the city was lonely – I went from weekend visitor to full-on every-night regular at the bar behind the counter.  It  was my social center.  There were friends made, boys met, life lived… time passed, things changed.  Paris didn’t.

in the summers Sissy (not yet Dr. then, just Sissy,) would step in as an extra barista to help with the high volume summer vacation time period there.  Life revolved around Paris.

I left college for culinary school.  I left culinary school for life.  “Life” turned out to be a job opening Paris on week-days, coming in at 4:30 a.m. to bake and get everything going for the day.  Watching the sun rise over the city and break on to the railroad tracks across the way.  Then eventually watching the apartments across the street being built.

I was working at Paris when all my weird symptoms turned into a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.  It was my roommate, a fellow Paris on the Platte employee, who saw me through my first, horribly long and side-effect-laden nights when I started the injections that seemed IMPOSSIBLE to keep inflicting on myself.

When the doctors told me that the heat of a commercial kitchen would never be a responsible work environment for a person with a heat sensitive nerve-damaging disease, it was the little kitchen in the back of Paris on the Platte where I worked my last day in the culinary industry. It was Paris where I walked out the back door in tears, not knowing what would be next.

Later I brought my designs to leave on the counter by the cash register when I was in floral design school….  and I studied for finals spread out in the sunny tables tucked in the front windows as an even MORE non-traditional student when I emerged from my post diagnosis fog and returned to finish my undergrad degree.

After graduation, as a new bride starting both a marriage and (ANOTHER) brand new career, my visits became less frequent.  I would drop by for a to-go coffee on my way to or from REI, or brunch across the highway with girlfriends.  Life got busy and time passed. I left my city. A blink, a breath, and the news that this weekend would be THE LAST weekend for Paris on the Platte.  Like many I made it a point to go, to linger a bit, chat with the owner, and use it as an excuse to let Jr have chocolate cake for breakfast:
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There can be no love story of Keri and her city without countless mentions of that eclectic, evolving, perfect little piece of Denver –  my understanding of the city and all I love about it began there –  and I know I am one of so very many who found within those walls a touchstone for their own lives.

Au revoir, Paris.

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It’s all too much. Just Sayin’.

So, hypothetically, you maybe  handled your small child’s last (very recent) independence milestone with bacon and weeping a scouch less grace than you perhaps could’ve .
If said small child decides just 2 short days later that he wants to, say, give up his beloved “bubbie” (pacifier) by stuffing it into the back of a Build-a-Bear and letting the nice lady operating the fluff pumper (heh heh) sew that bear up while he looks on proudly?
Make any excuse you have to, just get yourself a cushion of time between those events.
Otherwise you WILL cry in the Build-a-Bear and buy that Bubbie Bear every damn superhero costume the store offers, and then walk down the mall to the California Pizza Kitchen to day drink Chardonnay at “lunch” while Jr gives an impromptu Bear Justice League fashion show waiting for his chicken fingers.

Hypothetically.

Just Sayin’.

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2015.

My Christmas tree is still up, and today Jr went to school in big boy underpants.

These two things are actually totally related – so stay with me here.

2015 is going to be a biggie for us.  It will be the year that the diaper pail leaves our house, and the year the big boy bed comes into it.   The year that sees the end of trips into the baby product aisle, and me carrying a diaper bag….  the year the bubbie (pacifier) finally truly exits our lives forever.  The year scribbling turns to coloring, forks get used more than fingers, and the year that feetie jammies get traded for two-piece (easy bathroom access) models.  A year of so many changes I haven’t even had time to think up and obsess about yet.

Jr LOVES Christmas stuff.  He loves the lights, loves the decorations, the special toys and books that come out of storage, loves Hopscotch (the family Elf on A Shelf.)

With all of the changes coming with the new year, I have been in no hurry to get everything stored away this go-around. I still happily comply with his giddy requests to drive down every side street and cul-de-sac on the way home each night to see what holiday light displays still linger in neighbors’ lawns.   As I box up Elmo Christmas books and the Little People Nativity and North Pole sets, I wonder if he will be as excited to see them next year.  I know that sooner or later he won’t.

It was just last year at this time that he was still calling Frosty “Prosty” and Santa “Ho Ho” – try as I might, I can’t get his older, wiser self to go back to that – so I know that next Christmas can’t be the same as this one.

This was his last Christmas as any sort of a baby.  Now he is a little boy in tiny Batman briefs playing on the “big kid” equipment in the gym at school that he used to be too little for.   And I am a crazy woman clutching his tiny elephant rattle while crying and eating a whole plate of bacon.

Yep.  So far I am KILLING the “well-balanced parent” thing in 2015.

If anyone needs me, I will be trying to teach Potter how to use a bubbie and ride in the stroller.

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I really DO love Lucy. Just Sayin’.

This morning on MeTV, as I was pounding coffee in a haze before the usual morning insanity began easing into our morning routine, the I Love Lucy episode where the Ricardos move to the country was on.
The whole episode always has me nodding my head emphatically and feeling very homesick in a silly way.
But when Lucy is laying in bed and says “Ricky, this quiet is so loud I can’t sleep!” she hits the nail on the head so hard, I have to stifle the urge to shout ‘AMEN’!

Hey there, suburbs, life is noisy… can you please be too?  It’s creeping me out.

Just Sayin’.

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Twinkling windmills, tinkling preschooler….

Ahhh, Holiday Illumination.

My social media feeds are brimming with pics from family and friends of various things all lit up in seasonal celebration.

In the city, the botanic gardens and the zoo create magical glowing winter wonderlands that (for the price of admission,) you can wander through while enjoying a hot beverage to ward off the chill. Flowers made of super fancy lights, visiting the elephants down a walk way of red and green twinkles….

Lovely.

In the ‘burbs they string a shit-ton of twinkle lights on every surface of the mini-golf course and you go walk around in there and maybe play a few holes.

I am not even joking people.

But here’s the thing – Jr LOSES HIS TINY MIND WITH GLEE over Christmas lights. He freaks out over blow up Santas and glowy manger scenes and reindeer made of wire cages and lights that move their necks back and forth so. dang slow.  Loves it all.

In a town where some of the best-known house displays cause traffic backups that start an hour before the owners even fire the damn things up, wandering around the putt-putt with a cup Irish Coffee and a few friends while he checks out some lights up-close-and-personal sounds WAY better than inching through subdivisions in a line of minivans trying to tune the radio to the “listen to a display” station.

Why not, right?

Off we went, wandering over the Astroturf past windmills and tiki heads and volcanoes covered in endless strings of every type and size of holiday light you could ever hope to encounter, all the way to the back of the course, laughing and chatting with our friends while their daughter (older and wiser at 5, and a full-fledged “big kid school Kindergarten” attendee,) protected Jr from the features that he found too loud/fiery/big/etc.

All was well. And then I heard this: “I have to go potty. NOW!”

Jr is about 98% potty trained. He takes his “dry day” record very seriously. There was no way we could have an accident now. I shoved my glass at The Mr while he stammered about if they should all come with us or……

“I don’t care, we gotta go, we will find you!!” I yelled over my shoulder as I grabbed Jr’s hand and started snaking backwards against the flow of golfers and wandering families, apologizing with “SO SORRY – POTTY EMERGENCY!!!” as we ran though player’s putts.

Soon Jr was shouting it too – “POTTY EMERGENCY!! POTTY EMERGENCY!!!!” as his little legs reached speeds never before achieved.

At the beginning of the course we spotted the sign for the restrooms. Following the arrows we circled around by Santa’s makeshift workshop, behind the snack shack, and waaaaaaaayyyyy down a path at the exact opposite of where we had started the trek and into the brightly lit bathroom. I hoisted him up on the “giant toilet, mommy!” and he looked at me with relief “I can’t believe I actually made it all the way!” he exclaimed.

It’s a Christmas Adventure Golf Miracle, Jr.

God bless us, every one.

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