A medical convention down the street from where I did my pre med.

In Denver I’m out walking around

In the part they call lower downtown

     The town’s not the same,

     The game has sure changed

Since I left, med school bound.

For the first time that I can remember, the American Academy of Family Practice is holding their annual Scientific Assembly in Denver, my hometown. 

I grew up here, and I went away to college in 1968.  I came back in 1972 with a really spiffy degree from a prestigious eastern University and no marketable skills.  In January of 1973 I quit running from my destiny to become a doctor, but I had to go back to school to get my pre-med requirements.

I started the summer semester in that year at University of Colorado at Denver.  At that time it was housed in the rehabilitated Denver Tramway building.  Motivated students learned from professors selected for their ability to teach. 

Lower downtown Denver at that time had its sketchy areas, though gentrification had started on Larimer Street by then.  The Mile High City’s skid row festered a few blocks from campus.  Drunk Indians staggered past the bus stops, drunk cowboys found pawn shops and left their saddles.  Just plain drunks wandered from cheap bar to cheap bar.  Street people panhandled and looked strung out. 

Lean, hungry, and poor, I owned no car in those years when I lived in my mother’s basement thirteen miles away in the suburbs and cycled both ways.  Looking back, the three daily hours on a bicycle started me down the road to adverse time pressure.

I worked part-time at Cybertek, overnights and weekends, in the United American Life Building six blocks from school.  The firm provided computer services to the insurance company, and I put paper in the printer and cards in the reader.  The job didn’t pay well but it was convenient and I could study on the job.

Lower downtown is now LoDo.  The United American Life Building descended into rubble decades ago.  Well-used bicycle racks grace the front of many shops.  A pedestrian mall with free bus shuttle runs the length of 16th Street.  A sure sign of an affluent community, street musicians, play ukulele, saxophone, guitar, and even an upright grand piano.  The young people don’t look nearly as hungry.

University of Colorado at Denver in the 21st century resides at the Auraria Center and now looks like a college.

The country’s prosperity has increased in the last thirty-five years, mine along with it.  I’m not nearly as hungry.  I stay in a proper, air-conditioned hotel, and I drive a car. 

I still remember the hunger and cold, which increases my appreciation of the good things all the more.

The street people still panhandle. Still as numerous but made less noticeable by the prosperous, they look older but just as stoned.  I hear more European languages and more Spanish than I used to when I walk down the street.

I don’t hear Navajo or Ute any more.   I don’t see any drunk cowboys. 

And now I’m not in a hurry.

Contrast is the essence of meaning.


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