I Woke Up in Reno
Everyone I’d known who’d been or lived in Reno had pleasant things to say about it. I was already expecting to have a good time before I even arrived. I don’t like putting expectations on things, but sometimes ya just know.
I met an ex-showgirl who danced for 18 years. “Those were the days,” she said. “When I just danced and traveled the world. If I was your age I’d still be doing it. But those days are over.” I tried picturing her in her prime. What her life was like. If she slept around. How many times she’d been in love. What kind of choreography she did. Her energy and enthusiasm was that of a young woman. She didn’t have kids. She said her puppies were her children. I respected her confidence and conviction for where she was in life. She wasn’t fighting anything. She was realistic yet nostalgic. She was at peace. Acceptance was an admirable quality many people struggle to retain as they get older. She wore her age proudly, like a fine fox fur coat. I perused the pictures downstairs of past performers and imagined what it was like back then.
I was having lots of flashbacks later on that evening in my hotel room. Of people, places, feelings, wants, needs, wishes. I felt bored. To quiet my mind I wrote a Haiku. I couldn’t remember the format so I looked it up. 5, 7, 5. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was easy to follow and I was hungry for a new forum of creativity. I remember writing them in school. I felt like reminiscing with things I did in the past.
Follow the arcade
Take the escalator down
It’s time to eat now
The EDR wasn’t very appetizing so the next morning I walked across the river and stopped at Rawbry, a local juice bar. It was in the basement of a post office. I had a shot of wheat grass and a bottle of No Diggity, No Doubt. I walked around the myriad of shops and found a soap store. Pantry Products. The owner made everything herself. From beauty products to bath soaps. I bought bath salts, chapstick and a coffee scrub. My skin and bones needed love. I was ready to tackle some major mind and body maintenance. Bike rides, exercise, acupuncture, manicures, a massage… I was worn out and ready for rest, relaxation and freedom. I had just enough time to get shit done, have a little normalcy and get bored of a city that never felt like home.
I stopped at a cafe to eat and chatted with the bartender about love and travel. She used to live in Tahoe, then moved to Reno. She said everything was too chill by the lake and made her feel lazy, and being at the beach all day was unproductive. She met her boyfriend while she was visiting Reno. She was underage, drunk and partying at a club where he was bartending. Things fizzled out after a year of long distance debacles, but they reunited nine months later and cemented their relationship after an unforgettable trip to Burning Man. I asked what solidified things and she said the adventure they had at the festival. Things effortlessly came together, and when they returned home from the desert it ignited an old flame. Upon their return something changed. “We had the most mind-blowing sex we’d ever had.” I roared with laughter. She whispered and said their sex was always alright but nothing special. She was completely blown away as they laid there naked and confused. He collapsed on top of her panting like a dog and asked, “What do I have to do to make you mine?” Flattered and exasperated, she mustered, “more of that.” I loved her honesty. Her ability to tell a total stranger about an intimate moment between her and her lover. I don’t know if I was easy to talk to, a good listener or approachable because I was all alone, but I always found myself getting into interesting conversations with people. I already had a book title in mind, “Beautiful Strangers.”
A Bloody Mary and Mimosa later I was buying records on Virginia Street in Midtown. They were for my friend in San Diego. He was always sending me movies and music in the mail. I felt the need to pay it forward. He told me to hit up coffee shops and record stores in the cities I visited to get a feel for the local art scene. It was only appropriate I get him something. I bought a bunch of random records and cassette tapes from the 80s and beyond. I hoped he’d never heard of them. I wanted my selection to be a musical discovery for him like the things he sent me. Old, but new to the listener hearing them for the first time.
I found a vintage shop up the road called Junkee. It felt like Buffalo Exchange on crack, decorated like a Tim Burton movie. I bought three dresses I wondered if I’d ever wear. I didn’t need them, but I wanted a memento of the city. A memory I could use.
I wrote another Haiku later that evening. It felt childish, but I didn’t care. Art was art. Poetry was poetry. I read the etymology of the word “amateur” earlier that day- the definition gave the word a new found respect I didn’t used to have for it. A sense of bravery and curiosity. Originating in the 1700s, stemming from Latin and French linguistics, it meant, “lover of.” I liked that. It made me want to try new things. It was the last day of the two month U.S. bus tour. We were heading home in the morning. I felt brand new.
Rest your thoughts and sleep
On the road through the desert
To things you may need
I had a strange feeling when I woke up that morning. A “now what” kind of feeling. I had two weeks off to look forward to. It’d feel wasted if I didn’t do anything or go anywhere. Something memorable. I had a slew of adventures I wanted to tackle upon my arrival. If no one was able to join me, I was set on doing them on my own. I had a list I’d been compiling for months. Some even years…
- I had a dream about this place once. Salvation Mountain. I’d heard about it through pictures and an incredible film based on a true story, Into the Wild, about a young man finishing college, donating all his money to charity and hiking to Alaska. It was a man-made mountain in California by the Salton Sea, constructed from hay and clay by a holy man as an homage to God. One of those off the beaten path tourist attractions not everyone knew about. Out of the way, but probably worth the trouble.
Into the Wild (2007). Starring Emile Hirsch. Directed by Sean Penn. Set to the music of Radiohead's "How to Disappear…youtu.be
- There’s a natural hot spring overlooking the ocean in Big Sur atop a mountain I’ve never seen, but can picture when I close my eyes. Magical and dreamy… somewhere I’m supposed to be.
- My friend told me about a swanky sixties motel in San Luis Obispo. She said she’d kill me if I went without her, but I doubt she can go - and now that she has a boyfriend I’m sure she’d rather go with him. The Madonna Inn. It has 109 customized rooms with different themes. Caves, waterfalls, country bumpkin suites, Brady Bunch psychedelia, romantic love nests and more. People go there for photo shoots and rendezvous. I don’t have a lover but I still wanna go.
- Grand Canyon has been on my list for years. I went as a kid, but can’t remember a thing. Helicopter flight paths were constantly above me on my drive home from work years ago. Returning from their escapades of one of Earth’s natural wonders, as I was returning from a job I hated. I envied what they’d seen from their pricey aerial perspective.
- Skydiving was one of those bucket list items I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid watching cartoons after school. It was the closest I could get to flying without superpowers. I’d already boughten a Groupon last year but hadn’t been in town to use it.
I was feeling good. Optimistic. Ready to cross things off and unwind. We watched three movies on the bus ride back home. I felt like my vacation officially began.