Mission 4: Barhop to three places alone.
Objectives: Insert myself into the mix of Durango nightlife by visiting three bars of different genres; try a local cocktail; make a new female friend.
Mission reportAt 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, buoyed by the promise of procuring some liquid courage, I entered The Bookcase & Barber and announced the Latin password. A barber opened a passageway concealed within a (spoiler alert) bookcase to point me toward a seat at the bar. Through the lens of the old-fashioned ambiance, liquor bottles on shelves resembled elixirs of an apothecary, specially formulated for ailments such as un-wet whistles and too-healthy livers. One of the other barbers came in and asked to take the seat next to me, which was a relief since I was the only single person in a collection of groups, and had begun to feel the nag of self-consciousness. I selected the “Castaway” off the drink menu, and it may have been the best cocktail I’ve ever had – sophisticated, refreshing, and imbued with beguiling seaside undertones. It tasted like a clean shoreline where seagulls have taken an oath of silence. It tasted like Chris Isaak writhing with Helena Christensen on a private beach in exquisite black and white. It tasted like Chris Isaak giving a piggyback ride to a mute seagull … no wait, maybe it was Helena. The barber’s rich life experiences belied his young age, and his level of self-awareness was inspiring. Some of his comments helped soften my embarrassment about being alone, and I realized any inquisitions surrounding my solo status would likely originate from curiosity rather than judgment. A couple eventually sat on the other side of me and engaged us in conversation. I prolonged my stay at this bar, clinging to the positive social interaction in fear that I might not receive it anywhere else.
I dreamed of making a new female friend during my walkabout, but knew that infiltrating a cluster of women would be a clusterfudge. “Ahoy, madams! Have y’all tried the beauty treatment that makes dead skin peel off your feet within three to five days? I’m Cassidy, by the way!” It was clear that a one-on-one encounter might serve me better in the befriending process, but locating another anomaly like me seemed impossible … until I stepped inside the Irish Embassy and zeroed in on a girl seated at the bar alone. I left one stool between us, stole a few glances at her, and then – seizing the opportunity with gusto – I initiated a conversation. This girl was rad. She was fun and playful with banter, a kick-butt rock climber, and we managed to find some common ground immediately. The bartender offered us shots, and since she ordered whiskey, I tried to hang by agreeing to whiskey myself. I only downed half before my face contorted into that scrunched sour-lemon face, the damning mark of a rookie. Thanks to her receptiveness, being vulnerable paid off and I was lucky enough to accomplish the objective I cared about most – I got her number for a future friend-date!
My last stop prides itself on being a last stop – when you hit The Ranch at midnight or later, quite a few patrons are well on their way to Main and Blackout. It is a haven for debauchery, a place to leave decorum at the door. It wasn’t as crowded or wild as I’ve seen it before, but there was still no room at the bar, so I took that as a sign to wind down my night. I recognized a budtender from the Durango Rec Room, and he kindly introduced me to a group of foreign exchange students attending Fort Lewis. I waved off my tipsiness and settled in for some foreign diplomacy: I uncovered that in Germany, they also call Justin Bieber fans “Beliebers,” and a “brain fart” is exactly the same over there as well. I can’t imagine why, but they left somewhat abruptly, and the nice guy manning the door chatted with me instead.
I’ve previously showered the Durango scenery with praise, and shortsightedly omitted how friendly the people are. Going out alone became a reminder of the prevailing friendliness that shapes this town into feeling like home to me. Not a home I was born into, but a home in the truest sense – a home I belong to. People in Durango will initiate a conversation with you not necessarily with the intention of becoming friends, but because of some intrinsic belief that your story is more valuable than the ease of silence. And just like that, you kinda feel like you matter here … and therefore, you belong.
Next mission: Go out to dinner and a movie alone.
Outcome: Mission Accomplished
Skills Improved/Commendations: Social Skills, Mixology Appreciation, Whiskey Demerit, Befriending Badge
Heart-mending Effectiveness (out of 5 hearts): ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Cassidy Cummings is a local philanthropist who always puts the extra roll of toilet paper in a logical place.