Truckee isn’t the town it used to be. Between Sacramento and Reno, the Old West railroad town was just a collection of boarded up saloons and storefronts and abandoned Victorians and shacks a mere fifty years ago.
The town’s come back to life and has acquired a much higher-end feel as the the resorts around the town have become increasingly exclusive and expensive. You’re more likely to find antique mining equipment decorating multi-million dollar second homes than a store actually selling mining equipment these days, and over the past few years the number of yoga studios that have popped up around town has been startling.
And of course, I’m representative of the “new” Truckee. While I grew up going to the rinky-dink resort on the southern edge of town, Jack and I have bought into the condo of my childhood and we now partially own property at a development that has become staggeringly luxurious in the past few years. And I practice yoga in one of Truckee’s many studios when we’re up there.
Most yoga classes I’ve taken in town have been standard fare, though perhaps a bit more difficult for me at times due to the elevation. They’ve been taught by a cadre of lithe and soft-spoken younger women, much as one would expect anywhere else. And then I took a class from “John”.
He didn’t wear a stetson or have dirt under his nails, but John sounded like he’d grown up on a ranch somewhere north of Sparks. He had the authentic accent of the West that’s been largely replaced by coastal speak of Californians.
“Suck in them thiiiigh bones up into yer ribs,” he boomed like low thunder over the chaparral. “And lengthen yer spiiiiines right outta yer butt.”
As the class progressed, he began voicing approval after every pose the class completed with little “Woooooohoooo!”‘s, as though we had been collectively successful in ropin’ a herd of calves.
While laying in shivasana, instead of bringing my mind inwards and being present, I found myself imagining that John was circling our still bodies, removing rattlers that had slithered into the studio and placing them gently and deftly outside on boulders in the summer solstice sun before they could disturb anyone’s peace.
Instead of a closing “om”, it seemed like it would have been more appropriate to just sing a few ranching songs around a campfire.
He reminded me of “The Stranger” in the Big Lebowski, sans the handlebar mustache. John was imbued with the same lost nostalgia for “the real West”, and the same calm and watchful wisdom.
I could easily imagine John delivering such “Stranger”-esque nuggets as, “I guess that’s the way the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin’ itself”, or, “Sometimes you eat the bear, and well, sometimes he eats you.” Yogic philosophy in a Levi’s pearl-buttoned shirt.
John has changed along with Truckee and instead of mending fences in the ravines of the Sierra Nevadas, he’d taken off his chaps to bring the beauty of the peaks into the souls of the town’s new inhabitants.
After the class, when I thanked him, he didn’t place his hands together in prayer and wish me a beautiful day. He simply slapped me firmly on my back and said, “Nice ta meetcha”.