My girlfriend and I had just moved to Westminster, and we needed a houseplant for the new apartment.
“We need to have something alive in there,” I said. “We need to start a jungle in there.”
“Of course,” she said, “how else will we breathe?”
So we went down to 120th and Sheridan where all the stores were. King Soopers, Walgreens, Taco Bell, the UPS store, Verizon Wireless, Wendy’s, Hobby Lobby, Kohl’s, 24 Hour Fitness, Bank of America, Kentucky Fried Chicken/A&W, First Bank, Starbucks, Jack N The Box, Cricket, Papa John’s, Papa Murphy’s, Chase Bank, Radio Shack, Subway, Staples, IHOP, Big Lots, Petco, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and many more…
“Which one do we go to?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m not familiar with any of them.”
We ended up going to Home Depot, cuz it had ‘home’ in the name. They didn’t have the exact plants we wanted – Giant Sahara Oasis Palm Trees, but they had some ferns that could at least give us oxygen if we watered them right.
When we were done we put the plants in the car and backed outta the parking spot into the parking lot. But I was quickly disoriented.
“Um,” I said, “I don’t think I know how to get outta here.”
“Just go that way, right?” she pointed in the distance to 120th/Sheridan traffic lights.
“Yeah,” I said, “but how?”
We both looked around the parking lot. It was vast and full of spots and lanes. There were cars everywhere, parked and moving. But there were no signs to direct and manage them all.
I started moving down one random row, but it soon reached a dead end.
“I can’t move forward anymore,” I said.
“Maybe go that way,” she pointed in the other direction.
“Okay,” I shrugged and went that way.
But it didn’t take long before we got stuck again. There was a median of gravel and shrubs the car was not supposta go over. Then I hadta back up and turn around and head in another direction. We went to another row of the parking lot, and the same thing happened, and the next row too. No matter which way we went there was always suddenly landscaping in our way.
“Why are there so many barriers here?” she asked.
“I guess that’s just how they make parking lots out here,” I said.
“I remember when I was growing up a parking lot usta be a limitless spread of concrete. You could move ahead in every direction. You could go 100 mph. You could even crash if you wanted to. It was cool back then, I swear.”
All of a sudden there was a car behind us trying to get our attention. I was in the middle of some four-way stop and hadta make a decision.
“Oh my god, I’m upsetting people,” I panicked. “Which direction should I take?!”
“Use your instincts,” she said.
“But I don’t have any here!”
I had no choice but drive ahead further into the unknown, and soon we were in the deserted part of the lot. You couldn’t see the lights of any stores anymore. There were only huge jaggedy rocks on all sides.
“Blocked again!” I yelled.
“I guess just back out the way we came in.”
I looked in the rearview.
“There’s a bunch of shopping carts in the way now,” I said.
“Go thru them?” she said.
“Impossible,” I shook my head.
“Westminster!” we both screamed. “Westmonster!!!”
It appeared as if we’d be stuck there for good. The plants tried to stand up tall in the backseat. The commerce of 120th and Sheridan held firm. We tried to take a deep breath.
March 2015, Westminster, CO
Listen to “120th/Sheridan” here!
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