Wandering in Wyoming

2 Jan

I find myself bummed out a bit lately. More than usual at least. The Newtown horror story still weighs on my heart. Personal life events are taking personal tolls I don’t know if I can pay. Too frequently I read a post in some social media site that just stinks of pessimism and/or first world problems followed by the acronym FML – “Fuck My Life”. Really. Really? Really. Fuck my life. Is it really that bad? Is the world truly going to the proverbial hell in a hand basket? Even though it didn’t end as some predicted or hoped it would last week, the woes of life can tarnish the outlook of this newly minted member of the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. I think the membership requirements are simply to partake of a particular brand of mints and have a predisposition for pontificating.

So what to do when life or the world seems a bit colder and harsher? When one finds himself precariously close to saying Fuck my life or Fuck all and do not want to concede defeat to the fates or fatalists? I say go for a walk. And so I did to the chilly streets of downtown Cheyenne and for lack of better word, explore.

The first place to catch my attention was a historic train depot. Nice building made nicer by heat inside but pretty shy on people or other observable living creatures. All the same, not a bad place to warm up and it does have a lovely view of downtown. Easy to imagine travelers of another era stepping out the main doors for their first steps into this place and what it held for them.


I shall do the same. Step out to find what may be found for me today.


Up the street is an interesting looking place called The Wrangler so I wander in to a very old and very large western wear store and the only other person there who happens to have same name as my brother, Jeff. He’s old school cowboy style too. Handlebar mustache with waxed tips I dream of being able to grow; hat with the  sides flat and straight up; vest, beat up jeans, the whole ranch hand thing. We chat in that ‘gittin’ to know ya’ kinda way and it turns out he’s from Princeton, Texas town I visit regularly about an hour from my town.


Nice fella. Good ‘ol boy in the good kind of way who shows little interest in dressing me out in the latest western apparel but just wants to have a good conversation and maybe a little news from his homeland of East Texas. After driving a truck through the state a few times and being drawn to the cowboy culture thing, he up and decided to move to the heart of it all and spoke fondly of out of the way places around here and in Colorado that still have that Old West vibe to it. Feeling the need for a cup of mud, he points me in the direction of the nearest coffee shop to which I immediately miss for lack of decent navigational skills and end up at the doors of a becoming Methodist church.


Being a clergyman of the Methodist flavor, I pause to admire its architecture and out comes the church’s caregiver to oil the front door’s hinges. He’s a gent in a sweater with snowy hair, a trim beard and an easy smile. He pretty much fits the imagination’s image of church caregiver. It would take little to think of him trimming candles and polishing pews out of devotion to his faith. Dang, my first sighting of him is oiling hinges so they don’t welcome the visitors with a squeak. After a quick introduction, he invites through those silent doors into the sanctuary to show off its beauty and history.



Ever meet someone who obviously cares about something beyond their self? It’s good to me step beyond the shadow of our own noses and this gracious fellow had left his shadow somewhere back home it seems to me.

Onward, onward, surely coffee can be found somewhere and it is at the Starbucks around the corner. Sorry, so pic of this one but insert one from your experiences with a snowy parking lot and lot of people inside warming up with steaming caffeinated beverages. Turns out, after ordering a cup of hot black goodness I find I have no fundage for paying for that cup or its contents. “Don’t worry about”, says Rebecca the barista, “It’s on us.” Wow. Thank you, Rebecca. Free fuel for a cold day. Free fuel for a warming heart too.

The capital building is in my sights but I draw up short at the Wyoming Arts Council and meet the only person there, a kindly petite woman who appears to my limited experience to be of extensive Native American heritage. She gladly unlocks the gallery to show me the latest exhibition of local artwork and we talk of our shared interests in writing, pottery and photography. Art. So good. I’m now on her mailing list so if you want to know the latest offerings by the Wyoming Arts Council, call them or me. She also pointed me toward the state museum.Image

Another place with more to offer than meets the eye. Yes there are dioramas of how coal mines are formed and how cattle are branded. There are lots and lots of old six shooters and repeating rifles. Governor’s wives inaugural dresses. Rodeo stuff. Cowboy and Indian displays. Rocks and dinosaur bones. All nice and well displayed. I should know. I once took a class on “Museum Presentation”. Really, I did. Gave a docent tour for my final exam and everything.


But what it offers than can’t be put into a glass box is what makes it and any other bit of architecture special be it church, coffee shop, western store or house. The humanity that gathers, dwells, shares, eats and such within is what makes any of those places what they are. And that is what I really was hoping to find this morning when I set out. It’s too damn easy to find despair and pain. Blood and guts. But. But…if we worry less about arming ourselves with tough facades and defenses of less metaphorical sorts…if we arm ourselves with a greeting and a smile. An open disposition. An open heart. It seems to this naive, optimistic soul that there is not that much to exclaim “FML!” over but more than a little to say “GMH” over. Gives Me Hope. Hope found in hospitality. The kindness of strangers. Shared loves. Shared interests. It’s out there. Tucked away and in plain sight wherever I or you wander. Wander on. Wander on.


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