Slow-dancing the Tango

Luke Mehall - 04/06/2017

The move has been extensive, and the discoveries were inevitable, but I’d totally forgotten about the adult diapers.

I’m moving out of the place I’ve lived in for the last few years, a three-bedroom apartment that’s been in my circle of friends for just short of a decade. Before that I lived in about 10 different places my first few years in Durango, house sitting, going month-to-month, doing whatever it took to do this dance called the Durango Tango.

To stay in this place for three years was a welcome respite from moving around all the time. I wrote my memoir in this house, and it’s been the best era of my life yet. The place sits on a hill and overlooks Durango. Damn, we are lucky to dwell here, and that view reminded me of that every day.

I’ve found some relics in the house that have reminded me of each friend who lived here before, or with, me. There’s the “Van Halen 1984” framed album cover that Mike left behind – maybe his wife made him leave that, or maybe he wanted me to have something to remember our days together by. They are in the Dominican Republic now. I haven’t seen them in years and don’t know when I will.

Then there’s Micha, who I was reminded of while cleaning out the bathroom. She was The Best Roommate Ever, and we got along famously. But she was a little absent-minded when it came to chores: she left behind all sorts of toiletries that I had to sort through. It’s amazing what you’ll put up with when you like someone.

The adult diapers, fortunately, weren’t found in the bathroom, they were in the costume box. You see, one roommate – we’ll just call him “B” – he had an adult diaper fetish. I guess the word fetish might go too far, but let’s just say he genuinely enjoyed the thrill of dressing up in scantily clad costumes and the adult diaper was his standby.

One of my favorite all-time party nights was the first time I saw him in a diaper. He was dressed up as “Super Baby” for a superhero birthday party. It was just a normal Saturday afternoon in broad daylight, and our motley crew of 30- some people paraded around town, led by a man wearing an adult diaper and a cape/bib that read “Super Baby.” I can only imagine the impression we left on innocent tourists, and what they thought of this town. Whatever they thought it was probably accurate.

That was not the last time “B” dressed up in a diaper. He never seemed to run out of variations. Once he was a Calvin Klein underwear model that wore a diaper; other times he’d mix it up and wear a Speedo. Now that I write this, I think he just liked being as close to naked as possible.

I was more than grateful for this wild friend. I moved to Durango at 32 years old, ready for personal reinvention, but old enough to realize it might not take. My best friend, Tim, moved to Durango right around the same time (fun fact about

Tim: he enjoys wearing children’s dresses for costume parties. God, that sounds worse to write out than the “adult diaper fetish”) but other than that, I didn’t really have any close friends when I landed here.

I didn’t want to completely change who I was in Durango, but I wanted to grow. I knew I couldn’t do that without a community, and building community takes time. Somehow, through “B” and all the crazy costume and dance parties, I started to build. Seemingly every other person in this town has some sort of creative impulse.

Most of all, above anything and everything I really wanted to become an artist. I’d achieved “success” in my career by securing a public relations writing job, but I watched my soul slip away with each piece of propaganda I created. A poet can only go down one type of road, and it’s not the path that immediately goes toward financial security and a solid retirement plan, those things may come later, but the poet has to go right toward The Truth.

Just as quickly as I became a member of the community, friends started leaving. I learned that ambitious people in certain fields can only advance so far in our little mountain nest. Or people just get restless and want to see the world. I feel like every other week an intelligent friend is leaving, to New Zealand, or to Denver, following relationships or education or adventure.

Durango ended up being that perfect fit for me, like Forrest Gump in the Army. I can still grow in the realm of writing and advance my career, while being supported by our community. I feel lucky for that one. I often hear the regret of leaving Durango among my friends who moved away. “It’s OK,” they say, with an enunciation of nostalgia for the Durango lifestyle, but probably not the Durango Tango.

As for “B,” well he must have gotten that diaper fetish out of his system, because he’s deeply committed to his spiritual path these days and doesn’t drink or party anymore. I respect him for that, but I miss those days. Gosh, it seemed like I just moved here, but when I look back at all the friends who have come and gone, it reminds me that certain eras of life flash by so quickly.

And I’m settled. I’ll sip a beer during happy hour, or after a long shift at the restaurant (yes, I still dance the Tango) but I can’t remember the last time I closed down the bar. On the cusp of 40, that is appropriate. What was once fun becomes pathetic and sad. As the rappers say, “You gotta know your lane” and mine is the one going Subaru slow.

Well, I better get back to moving, who knows what other gems I might find, reminding me of the other people I’ve shared this place with? And, if you need some adult diapers or a “Super Baby” outfit, give me a shout.

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