Friday, December 14, 2007


My friend lives in Winnemucca, NV. There's beauty in the name alone, but there's even more in the wide, dark pocket it opens in the mind. Winnemucca! What I know about the town -gleaned from scraps of conversation with my friend, who likes to give her words room to breathe- totals this: desert, rocks, government land. In other words, I know just enough to leap off the plane into the blue with Winnemucca strapped to my back. In Winnemucca, there are flat, dusty streets, white DNR trucks, drunken geologists. The drunken geologists hole up every weekend in the town's single bar, a white shotgun affair named, with no irony, the Alamo, where they drink Long Island ice teas and swap pictures of the wives the've stashed in Provo, Reno, or Carson City. It's four hours to the airport. No one recycles. Summers make you sneeze. Every December, the piano teacher (blind now ten years: cataracts) recruits her strongest, if not her best, students to haul her Baldwin upright onto a parade float. It'll be five or five thirty, under an iron sky; her hands will ache for days.

Last night my friend calls me to tell me she's leaving Winnemucca. I tell her about the story I've finished, how the piano turned out fine. In exchange she tells me about yesterday's Christmas parade and, although maybe the coincidence should surprise me, it doesn't. What can you do with a town like Winnemucca but add a parade?

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