“Old God sure was in a good mood when he made this place.”
The Hunter S. Thompson quote often crossed my mind as I traversed Boulder’s streets and hiking trails during my CU student years. Living in the shadow of the Flatirons, at the nexus of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, can make a person aspirational.
For some, including myself, Boulder’s true enchantments are found in the unique, nuanced spaces that provide a break from the hum of university life.
My respite was on west Pearl Street.
Trident Booksellers, my 1980s coffee chic space, was more than a place to study. It was a community. Entering the sometimes chaotic store, I knew I would find trusted baristas, an expert who knew the location of every single book, my third table on the left in the back and a mechanical pencil sharpener. Trident was a loyal friend and confidant — it was a space for me to recharge.
At Trident, I wrote a story for the cover of Out magazine on the forced displacement of the LGBTQI+ community and my thesis on climate grief in children. Usually my ideas flourished, but when writer’s block froze my creativity, a glance into the bookstore would stir my sociological imagination.
The baristas would yell, “Large iced latte!,” the phrase like a metronome regulating the flow of life and business. When COVID-19’s deadly assault consumed the world, the first thing I noticed missing was this metronome; I had taken it for granted. In the months that followed, I was locked away like the rest of the world, and the grocery store became my place of community. I craved my back table at Trident.
As the months rolled on, and I was quarantined in my Denver home far from Boulder, the semester came to an end — my final CU semester. It was then that I realized: The nuanced spaces held the most potent memories.
These memories — these cherished spaces and the hours spent on Pearl Street — I will always carry with me, because small spaces like Trident make up a large piece of my life.
At Columbia in New York City, where I’m living now, I’m seeking the same sounds and community.
I can picture it now: third table from the back, pencil sharpener, baristas.
“Large iced latte!”
Photo by Trident Booksellers & Cafe