York street, at least in Denver proper adjacent to downtown, starts in earnest in an industrial wasteland just north of the river arts district beside a massive Purina dog food plant. It snakes briefly through the Cole and Whittier neighborhoods with a prominent stop light on the corner of Bruce Randolph Boulevard. This corner has a Seven Eleven, a few small businesses and an objectively dangerous liquor store that caters to the impoverished and desperate to the point where the first thing you see when you walk in is a collection of large, barrel-like coolers filled with the cheapest and most potent alcohol available. Steel reserve. Icehouse. Old English. King cobra. Wild Irish Rose wine. Natural Ice. Four Loko.
If you continue along York street the environment shifts to city park on your left and Syrup on your right. Syrup a wildly popular brunch spot that turned their parking lot into table seating because of Covid. Fancy dogs. Fancy people. Mostly young.
There is a slight plunge back into reality when York street crosses Colfax which is for lack of better comparison the Bourbon or Beale street of Denver. Though far less interesting.
Two blocks from Colfax you enter a new dynamic. The people on the sidewalks change. The houses on the corners change.
Once you cross 9th, 5 blocks from Colfax, you see the Denver botanical gardens on your right and hordes of masked tourists wait to cross the street and spend their day looking at flowers. Back on Colfax you might have seen a man sitting against a light pole convulsing from addiction.
After you watch the tourists cross and the light changes you see a feathery haired blonde guy not wearing a shirt, walking a golden retriever. And you concede he’s just living his life and can’t possess irony but because you’ve driven the street up to that point you now believe America is doomed. Soon to burn, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
But you only think this to yourself, and you weirdly say out loud that it’s funny and your significant other who has been in the car the whole time asks what’s so funny, but you don’t say. You say you forgot they were in the car. And you keep going because your destination is the Cherry Creek reservoir where you’re going sailing with friends.
Wilson Koewing is a writer from South Carolina. His work is forthcoming in Wigleaf.