This part of Denver feels cozy. All my childhood, I was warned to stay off Colfax Avenue, it being dangerous, or scary, or both. Stories told of drug deals, dirty locked-up storefronts, protitutes. I’m in a coffeeshop and, the coffee is good, the music is good, the people are nice (and every single one has a laptop out at the moment). The stores look like the kind run by thirty-somethings who found affordable rent on a relatively walkable street.

I’m on my way to another coffee place up in Capitol Hill, about eight blocks away in a few. I’ve needed to explore the city under my own power. A few more minutes in the car goung from east Denver where my brother lives to Littleton where the rest of my family is and back again was going to make me mad. So today is sneakers and backpacks and stopping for coffee to look at maps online. It’s not an easy city to navigate. Neighborhoods run together, mazes of one-way streets snake around parks that crop up out of nowhere.

I’m hoping to find some decent places to hang out here, so I can stop loathing this city for its outskirts of sprawl, Big Box® after Big Box®, wide, curved eight-lane roads that seem intent on showing you how many big businesses there are rather than getting you where you want to go.

I’ve needed this time to myself. I don’t really get to know a place until I can walk it.