Jentel Day 2: Settling In
Ok, fine—so I had a moment. I’d left at 4am and flown Asheville to Charlotte to Denver to Sheridan. I was tired. My foot was still broken. And my cough still lingered. I’d unpacked everything, eaten a snack, and headed back to my room to read some poetry. I sat down, leaned over to take my cast off, and when it was time to sit back up I couldn’t get myself to do it. I just stayed there, folded in half, and started to cry. It goes without saying that this, um, is not my customary practice before reading poetry.
There are so many more miles to go, I thought to myself, and it had never felt truer. I’d been gazing at the rounded foothills, the snow-kissed sagebrush, and the winding red roads all afternoon. I’d already spotted the first small peak (right behind my studio) that I would have climbed upon my arrival. I’d used my binoculars to trace the old two-track cutting through the cattle ranch and into the 1,000 Acres (Jentel’s property). I’d even gone so far as to ask about property lines and land regulations—as though I’d be hiking these gorgeous golden-backed foothills every single day.
The entire state of Wyoming only has 500,000 people in it. That’s fewer than Alaska and fewer, in fact, than any other of the 50 states. Sheridan, the town that’s 20 miles from Jentel, has a population of about 12,000 and it’s the third largest city in Wyoming. All of which is a statistical way of saying: This is my kind of state. Yet for that moment, sitting with my cast undone and jetlagged, I felt nestled at 4,600 feet in the high desert of The Cowboy State with not a single ounce of Yeehaw! in me.
That was last night. Today, I’m just resolved. There is nothing I can do about being immobilized, doctor’s orders. (I think I have walked a grand total of perhaps 1000 feet today, including trips to the bathroom. I used the electric wheelchair at the grocery store.) The doc said I almost snapped my bone all the way through. I was a few millimeters shy of needing surgery. This is not something I can mess around with because, as I thought: There are so many more miles to go.
For the next four weeks, the Sunset Studio is my mountain. The Resident’s House my forest. I must explore them with as much ferociousness as any backcountry excursion. And these wonderful people, the Nov/Dec Jentel crew of 2010, will be here to enliven and enrich the experience: