Friday, May 18, 2007

Far From Gramercy Park

Our Town downtown
February 26, 2007

In Jackson, Wyoming last week I notice the rear of two cars parked in front of Bubba’s, the place you get breakfast; one has an Alaska license plate and a sticker that says Eskimo Women Kick Ass, the other car is from Wyoming and has a sticker that says Charlton Heston is my President.

In the local paper is news from the state legislature in Laramie about proposed legislation that seeks to do away with citizens being allowed to drive with an open container of alcohol.
These sightings are sent to you not to mock out-westerners with muddy tires like New Yorkers are supposed to do. They’re sent to show you how far from Gramercy Park you can get in a week.

Here’s what you can do in a week when your pregnant youngest daughter’s water breaks a week early in Jackson Hole and you gotta’ get there. The last-minute price of a ticket out of here is too high by any standard and you find one a lot cheaper out of Cincinnati, which you book because your college roommate is a lawyer in Columbus and you can stay with him and he’ll drive you to Cincinnati the next day. But first you go to rural Ohio with him while he refs a basketball game between same-town high school rivals Washington Courthouse and Miami Trace where it’s senior night and there’s a testimonial and silence for three kids from the two schools who were killed in a car crash earlier in the week. The National Anthem is sung by two students with a guitar with a pain you haven’t heard before.

The plane gets me to the Wyoming hospital an hour before the young couple is leaving with their baby for the two-minute drive to their house on Flat Creek Road. My ex-wife’s flight is delayed by snow so I’m glad I made it.

The kid is a beauty. Lucy Macauley. No staring at her wishing you could tape an odd ear back. She changes your life like friends said she would. It’s like there’s a Christmas tree in the room now. My son-in-law says the next day that the biggest of their two dogs slept in their room by the crib. He’d never slept in their room before.

I don’t ski and am getting tired of visiting my daughter out there without doing anything with the snow. This time I take a lesson in cross country skiing. It’s rewarding like swimming laps is and I go three other times. You can see the real skiers coming down the Tetons just a few hundred yards away. It’s beautiful to watch. You envy them. Later in a bar at the base of the mountain they all look in their ruddiness like Brett Favre and Sheryl Crow. You think you look like Bob Denver to them.

At another bar one night a snowboarder from Birmingham, England says he and his mates go into Yellowstone the day before to get near a geyser. He says there are two bears in front of the geyser so they can’t get very close. He is awed.

On the fifth night in town, I decide I’ll stay away one night from the baby’s house and let my ex have her to herself. I go to the local high school basketball game. The Jackson team is the Broncs. The Lady Broncs play first and the team from Lander Valley they play has three very good young players I think are Mexicans. The next morning my son-in-law says they were most likely Americans Indians. There’s a reservation in Lander he says. The crowd at the game wasn’t much different from the crowd in rural Ohio. Maybe the Jackson men have longer arms and bigger hands. Rangier, I guess. Cowboys.

A week after Lucy is born, her mother and father decide they’ll bundle her up and put a little knit cap on her head and put her in one of those papoose things and go outdoors into the snowy landscape with her for the first time. They take their two dogs in the car with them and drive off for a walk along the Snake River.That’s a long way from Gramercy Park, a short drive for them. And they don’t need a key.

-- Bill Gunlocke

No comments: