A love letter to the town (I mean city) of Brighton, Colorado
For much of my childhood, I led a double life. Okay, that's a super-dramatic way of saying that from age seven to age seventeen, I went between two households: one in Brighton and one in Denver. This wasn't because my parents were divorced (not yet), but because my best friend, who'd lived next door to me in central Denver, moved to Brighton when we were in elementary school, and, since we were inseparable, my brother and I spent every other weekend, as well as virtually all of summer and winter breaks and many holidays, with our BFFs in Brighton. And when we weren't there, our BFFs were with us at our little ramshackle box home in Virginia Village.
Creative Commons See that cowboy? Means we're halfway to Brighton, baby!
- Breeality Bites: I'll be out reppin' my transitional neighborhood like a mascot
- Ten shows the History Colorado Center should have opened with
- Santiago's Mexican Restaurant -- green light on the chile sauce
Our mothers, both nurses, seemed not only to understand this devoted (and slightly obsessive) bond, they facilitated our ungodly amounts of time together. Back then, Brighton didn't start until you reached Bridge Street; that was an hour-plus commute round trip, so they figured out that the Hi-U Inn Motel in Commerce City (see actual sign above) was almost exactly halfway between Denver and Brighton, and they would do the hand-off there.
I still wonder what that scenario must have looked like to passersby: Almost every Sunday night around 6 p.m., two women would meet in the parking lot of a motel, and two children would exit one car for another, the pairs of kids rotating each trip. It was like some bizarre kid-swap situation -- but for us, it was a regular ritual.
From time to time, we would all meet up, dads included, for dinner at La Estrellita, a restaurant where many of my Brighton friends would later work in high school and college. (I don't think my current roommates know that the giant red-plastic industrial restaurant cups that they drink from in our house were all nicely "taken" from La Es.)
As I moved into middle school, I spent many Friday nights at the Wagon Wheel in Brighton, a dimly lit rollerskating rink that, in my often-faulty memory, always played my favorite skating jam of all time, "Spring Love", by Stevie B. My future best friend -- who I wouldn't meet until the end of high school -- still swears that while I was circling the rink (which had a giant tree growing through the middle of it) to a heavy rotation of Freestyle music, she was the twelve-year-old in the dimly lit corner of the dimly lit rink, making out with some dude. I think I always wanted to be that scandalous middle-schooler; instead, I was the girl wearing Stephanie Tanner bangs and a crushed-velvet bodysuit, heading to the snack stand for a pretzel.