abandon all hope, alcoholism, antelope, Colorado, Colorado Springs, D.U.I, Dante, Denver, divine comedy, drivers license, drunk, eartly heaven, El Paso County, felony, gates of hell, hell, high plains, inferno, open relationship, Peyton Colorado, Pikes Peak, prairie, prairie flowers, red tail hawk, Rocky Mountains, three strikes, train, train station, Virginia
The First Loss
(I packed all my belongings in three trunks, tearfully kissed mom goodbye, and boarded a train for Colorado Springs.)
My train rolled into Denver early in the morning. Stella met me at the station and I joyfully swept her up in my arms and spun her around. I was thrilled to be here in Colorado. It had been a dream of mine since I was a young man to come to Colorado and to do so to meet the woman I thought would be my new love and my new life thrilled me beyond comparison. This was a chance for a new beginning that I had not anticipated in a place of my dreams. I was to start over at the feet of the Rocky Mountains and in the Shadow of Pikes Peak.
We lashed my trunks to the top of her vehicle and drove to Peyton, Colorado in El Paso County, 15 miles east of Colorado Springs. She lived in a modular house on five acres of land out in the high plains of eastern Colorado. We set my stuff up in a second bedroom.
It was established that our relationship was to be of the “open” variety. She was to have “dates” with other men and I was free to do the same. I was o.k. with this — I thought.
I had quit drinking. She was not keen at all on me drinking as heavily as was my habit and I could not drink any other way, so the only alternative was to quit altogether. I did and happily.
The high plains of eastern Colorado are earthly heaven. The plains roll eastward and ever higher to the roots of the Rockies. Antelope range the swells and hollows, running and leaping in a synchronized ballet. Red Tail hawks fly giant and solitary above the rough grass and prairie flowers. I fell in love with the land.
Pikes Peak stood on the the horizon to the west, beckoning.
The first month went wonderfully. Stella and I cohabited in domestic bliss and I hiked many miles along two-lane blacktops. There was blackness in the air, but I buried my head in the sand and refused to face the inevitable.
I went job hunting in Colorado Springs, but found no takers. In the way of the world I had a fatal flaw. I had no drivers license (therefore no car) and a felony on my record. The felony was for a Driving Under the Influence I got shortly after my wife and I split when I started drinking again. It was a “three strikes” deal. It was my third DUI within five years which in Virginia qualifies as a felony. There were no accident or injuries. I just got pulled over one too many times.
I was optimistic though. The restriction on my driving was coming off in a couple of years and I was looking for work on a dirt level where a felony isn’t so prohibitive.
After a month though things went quickly bad. Stella started exercising the “open” aspect of our relationship. She started dating two and three different people a week — men and women. I was cut off with no explanation. I tried talking to her about it and letting her know just how bad it hurt me. I was in absolutely no position to make any demands or issue any ultimatums.
It was clear to me that I was there as her “guest.” I had no job and paid no rent. I had no individual transportation and we were 15 miles from any civilization. Her nearest neighbor was one mile away and that was about the average distance between houses and ranches out there on the plains.
I bought a bicycle to try to get back and forth and went into town one day to apply for jobs. No takers . . .. A flash thunderstorm came off Pikes Peak and drenched me and I had to hole up somewhere until the rain stopped. The first place that I came to was a bar.
I didn’t get drunk there. I had a long and treacherous bike ride 15 miles across the prairie on a pitch dark and cloudy night. But it wet my whistle and I stopped at a liquor store before heading back and picked up two pints.
The blow up didn’t happen that night. It took me 24 hours to get wound up.