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Please forgive me, I’m about to be both blunt and politically incorrect. But this is sort of a love note; and at such times, you want to ensure your missive gets to it’s intended recipient.

Gay men of Denver, I love you. Adore you. Couldn’t live without you. I want to take you home (not like that), be your new best friend. I want for you to be my one and only passenger.

Denver is an up and coming city, in an up and coming economy. A housing market that has increased over 20% per year for more than 5 years means only the (financially) strong survive here. Weed money means there are more entrepreneurs per square mile than anywhere else in the US. So Denver is particularly intellectual, successful, worldly, well-heeled and well-traveled.

Denver is (forgive me) a bit jaded, a little too BTDT for a girl who spent years on a farm and makes a practice of wearing her heart on her sleeve. Who doesn’t really get (or do) small talk. I’m too earnest, too awkward, too granola-crunchy/earth mama. So the wall goes up each night, always hoping for a chance to let it down, but always mindful of meeting my passengers where they are. Always seeing to their comfort above all else, because let’s face it, they’ve already had a long night or they wouldn’t be calling me.

But I noticed something months ago. Gay men are often the ones who will stop and just connect before they leave. Not, let me chatter at you nervously as I gather my stuff, I mean really connect. I’ve gotten my things, I’m ready to go, now I’m going to stop for a minute and see you, because you aren’t just a driver, you’re a person. It’s an uncommon experience in a world where we all kind of go around following the script.

“Take care, honey!” “You be safe out there tonight, okay?”.”Drive safe, angel!”. “Hey, thanks for the safe ride home, sweetness, you’re the best!”. Before Uber’s much needed and long-overdue zero tolerance hands-off policy, these were often accompanied by kisses and or a hug. Often many hugs. That stopped the instant the policy changed (not gonna lie, I miss that). Always looking at me, not out the door, but at me.

Connection.

Even now, thinking about it has me verklempt.

This job is not for the faint of heart. It’s fly by the seat of your pants financially (especially in Denver). It’s stressful, often harrowing (especially if you’re a perfectionist who cuts yourself little, if any, slack). You’re risking a lot just to do it. But it’s flexible, and for me, it is something that allows me to work around multiple barriers. And since my ultimate goal is to (finally) return to school and pursue a career, being able to dictate my own hours on the fly means I can maximize my time and earnings while finishing my long delayed education.

These passengers aren’t just my favorites, they are the air I breathe at times. My life has never been what one would call easy, and the last year has been brutal, on multiple counts. Not without it’s perks, don’t get me wrong, some things have gone blissfully right. But it’s only in those moments of having someone take care of me for once, as simple as that may sound, that I realize just how heavy my burdens have become.

Having someone take a minute out of their already very busy day to help me shoulder my burdens just levels me. And sometimes, is the thing that gives me the strength to go on just a little while longer. It’s the thing that has been slowly filling my broken heart with joy again, stitching it back together, one ride at a time.

Truly, from the bottom of my once shattered heart, thank you.

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