I was in Colorado for a couple days last week, and I confess, it was disorienting.
As far as I could tell, Colorado is virtually indistinguishable from Massachusetts, and Denver is practically Ipswich.
You get off the plane at Denver, and it’s a half-hour drive to downtown. Likewise, landing at Logan, and it’s a half-hour drive to Ipswich.
Only as you pay close attention do you begin to realize which place you’ve landed in.
For example: You might notice, during the Colorado version of this journey, that you’re driving through vast expanses of nothing — as opposed to the Massachusetts version, which features a world-record density of tantalizing restaurants and retail businesses. Every time I return home by air, I must make a conscious effort not to stop in Saugus and spend money. Polcari’s and Kowloon call my name, in different accents. The Denver experience is nothing like that. Colorado has no Saugus.
I suggest getting your bearings even before your plane lands in either location, Boston or Denver. As the aircraft descends, glance out the window. If you see earth below, you’re arriving in Colorado. If you see liquid, and it appears you’re plunging into a watery doom, you’re arriving in Massachusetts. Have no fear: Logan Airport sticks out into Boston Harbor, and the runways are the stick-outiest parts of any airport, so of course your aircraft will glide perilously close to the frigid waters of the Atlantic before touching down at the last possible moment on the reassuring asphalt of your totally safe runway. Not to worry. Hardly any planes have ever gone into the drink.
Massachusetts? Colorado? If you agree that it’s a good idea to be sure where you are when you land, here’s another tactic. After you step outside, look up. Look around. See that? Isn’t it strange? Solid blue, as far as you can see? It’s like someone forgot to hire a decorator. What you’re looking at is something call “sky.” You must be in Colorado. As I deplaned at the Boston airport this past week, I took care to look up and around — just to be sure I’d gotten on the right plane — and here’s what I saw (circling from my left, clockwise): concrete wall, construction crane, high-rise, concrete overhang, NO PARKING NO STANDING TOW ZONE, concrete wall, high-rise, NO STANDING VIOLATORS SUBJECT TO FINE, concrete wall, construction crane, concrete overhang. This was reassuring. Home sweet home.
Perhaps my moment of greatest befuddlement on the entire trip was when I checked into my downtown Denver hotel, clomped into my 9th-floor room, and threw open the curtains. There was the Atlantic Ocean.
Pretty soon, I figured out that it wasn’t actually Crane Beach, because it was obviously a nice, sunny day, and there were fewer than 100,000 people. In fact, there were no people at all. There were only beach chairs, unoccupied, and all in a neat, straight row.
Also, this ocean was directly opposite my hotel room, 9 stories up.
I’m no art connoisseur, but within a couple hours I was pretty sure that this ocean was a work of art, not nature.
Sure enough, my ocean view turned out to be “Ocean View,” a giant mural splashed across the adjacent building. The artist, as it turns out, is Rob Reynolds, who was born someplace you may have heard of: Massachusetts. About 7 miles west of downtown Boston. So — obviously — when it came to decorating the side of a brick building in downtown Denver, Rob’s heart reached out to his homeland.
Perhaps, even when you’re stuck in Denver, 1,754 miles from Boston, you have an innate longing for ocean from which we sprang, as amoebae, a zillion years ago. I enjoyed my time in Colorado, but I can tell you, after a couple days, I definitely had that amoeba kind of craving: Gimme the concrete overhangs. Gimme the real beach, not the version painted on brick. And please, dear God, gimme the all-you can-eat shrimp at Kowloon.
Doug Brendel is happily back at his home on outer Linebrook Road in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Wherever he may roam, follow him at DougBrendel.com.