Dear Manitou Springs,
With few exceptions, my major life downfall has been too many eggs, and not enough baskets. My grandmother recently wrote to my family that I have such a warm heart; if only I were more careful with it. And she’s not wrong. 90 year olds usually aren’t, about the things that matter.
Yet once again, here I am – myriad eggs, one basket, and currently that basket is you, swinging over a fire. If the bough breaks, Manitou will fall, and down will come…everything.
I met you three years ago, when my dad took us to visit your glorious penny arcade. When I moved out here last year, you were the place where I went to look for restaurant jobs. I didn’t want the flash of Colorado Springs, though it would have made for an easier commute. I wanted you.
A few months after getting a job at Townhouse Lounge, I hung at Barker House with an awesome woman. As I gazed in wonder through the turret window, wondering how it was possible for a town to be so amazing, she shared the story repeated by Manitoids throughout the years: If you find yourself repeatedly wondering, “Why Manitou?” It may not be that you need Manitou. It may be that Manitou needs you.
I got chills, and they were multiplying, and after a year of working for you, I was so psyched to live within you, as Ruxton became my latest domicile.
But sometimes I feel trapped and claustrophobic, and I get the commitment phobes. Life in Manitou can be like a Stephen King novel – everyone trapped in this bubble, this dome, going crazy because aliens and ghosts and vampires are messing shit up. Sometimes I need to get in a car and drive down Manitou Avenue until the bubble pops and the avenue name switches to Colorado. Civilization, how ya been?
You know what the answer is, Manitou? Pretty boring! Civilization in Colorado suburbs is fine, but not unlike how it was on Long Island! And I didn’t come here for that. I came to you because even when you’re pissing me off, I need weird. I need unique.
I need my high school, not literally, but like, a place that may go crazy on a daily basis, but it’s my family. Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. And even if they gossip about you the second you walk away, they’re gossiping about you by name.
And if you get into trouble, they will try to help. If you are having a baby, they will bring diapers to your baby shower. If you need a place to stay, doors will open. If you need a hug, arms will open.
And that’s the mushy. There’s practical too, because if you need a stellar burger or beer or vegan entrée or custard from a Pike’s Peak marathon (multiple time) winner, or a Christmas ornament, or a comic book from the ‘60s, or fondue, or a cozy place to drink wine, Manitou’s the town. (As in Townhouse, my favorite place!)
If you need to play video games from 1991, or pinball games from 1961, there’s the awesomest arcade I’ve ever been to. If you need to roam around a bookstore with local authors, or (well, anywhere) with local visual artists’ work, Manitou’s the place. Not to mention the ubiquitous music from people I’m proud to know.
Manitou, I cho(o)se to work in you, live in you, and love you. So as Ed Harris would say, DON’T YOU DIE ON ME, BITCH!!! I’m totally serious. I’ve never loved anyone like I love you, and I have enjoyed letting you hold my eggs in your basket.
And this is not even to mention your deceptively awesome playground, next to the awesome bandshell, next to the awesome mate…And have I mentioned that you make Stars Hollow look like a big city?
Feeling very Emily from Our Town now, so that means that it’s time to wind down, as “clocks ticking” is really more Jan-Pro nostalgia than anything else, and that’s Colorado Springs.
Point is, dear Manitou, please stay alive. You’ve had so much pluck for so very long, and I know you still have it in you, to Just Say No to forest fires. Whether I live in you forever remains to be seen, but my aforementioned high school is gone, and I need a place to say I knew you then and loved you always, and thanks for some unforgettably great years.
Stay strong. Tell your ghosts to call my ghosts, and we’ll do lunch.