Monday, August 11, 2008

Omaha Bizarro

Half a week of day hikes and acclimatizing in southern Colorado, I'm now drumming my fingers the night before my two uncles and I take off on our big expedition into the Weminuche Wilderness. For your amusement and edification, a meditation on my second night of couch surfing, which was way weirder than the first:

The smell of the ancient smoke rooted deeply in the couch told me where I was, before I opened my eyes. The morning sunlight slipped through the crack between the window frame and the curtain-- once a louche red velved, to match the room's wood paneling, now a paisley pink shred of fabric was draped lazily over the bar. I think I caught fleas that night.

We had arrived late, astonished to see the number in brass above the door. A massive brick manse-- part Ole Miss sorority house, part masonic lodge-- a thick chain of long-forgotten purpose hung in a shallow U over the entryway, and red caution tape, tied to the banister, floated in the breeze. A perky blonde hipster came flying out the door in a blue dress. We were welcome, Shelly was inside playing Donkey Kong, the right side of the house was condemned, and we could sleep on any couch that wasn't already taken. Omaha, it turned out, was a popular destination that Sunday night.

It was hard to keep track of whom were the proper denizens of the manse, and who were my fellow transients. After squeaking in the front door, I met a flurry of faces-- three bobbed brunettes with a French style about them, a tall shaggy Italian, a mutton-chopped bro. The room was a jumble of couches, mirrors, cats and Polaroid photographs, with bodies-- sleeping and awake-- strewn on every surface. It was a 1960s flophouse, a hipster hideaway, a traveler's safehouse and new to me.

The night got late, the room grew dark, and the restless went to drink and smoke on the stairs. As I lay drifting on my couch, a smiling face framed by bobbed brown hair appeared, and a pair of hands thrust a musty pillow toward me. I smiled back, and drifted away again.


Blogger Nora said...

as your godmother i feel I should have equipped you with a can of Raid before your departure, an essential item in any seasoned couch surfer's kit (or caboodle.)
ps i think this looks like it's from Nora but it's not.

14/8/08 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Weminuche Backpacker said...

I hope your experience in the Weminuche was just as magical. It is one of my favorite places in Colorado to backpack - I try and make a trip every year.

16/8/08 11:21 PM  

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