The Elegant World

I have been in Wyoming for a little over a week now. When I arrived on the postage stamp of tarmac that is the Jackson Hole airport, I was nervous, excited, nervous. I lugged my 45 pound duffle from the baggage carousel (one of two in the airport), and wished for the best. I boarded a shuttle to my employee village where I was the only passenger, and stared at the Tetons for 35 miles, their peaks slicing through the sky like an otherworldly billboard.

The first few days were a disorientating blur, meeting new faces and traveling to new places. My friend here commented that it was like the first week of college, and she was absolutely right. And like the first week of college, it’s been a week of adapting, adjusting, and learning.

I work at a deli, and so far my new skills include: operating a menacing deli slicer, scooping generous lumps from hardened ice cream cartons, closing an icing bucket with a mallet, dispensing labels from a price gun on the first try, and ringing up customers without charging them twice the price for their order (whoops).

My skills do not yet include: correctly estimating half a pound of meat, wheeling a cart out of the cooler without knocking it into multiple shelves, and correctly reloading coffee machines. I may have started brewing a fresh pot of coffee before it was empty, and it may have splashed organic dark roast over the counter, and it may have taken a dozen caffeine soaked rags to remedy the situation. Luckily my coworkers are far more competent than I, and quickly spotted the surge of coffee.

So, as you can tell, I know how to make a good impression.

I’m slowly adjusting–to the processes of the deli, to the smell of pastrami and rocky road that perfume my work polo, to the peaks of the Tetons greeting me each morning. Though I’m not  sure that last one will ever become routine, and I wouldn’t want it to. Whenever I walk towards the employee cafeteria in the morning the Tetons seem slightly different, as though showing off a different angle. And they have no bad angle.

And since I’ve been here, I’ve already seen and done so much. I’ve seen elk tentatively jump the wooden fences bordering Highway 89, bear 399 and her three cubs lope over the road to the safety of a pasture, bison lazily flicking their paintbrush tails through the dry air. I’ve been horseback riding, hiking, kayaking, and raft floating. There’s an overwhelming amount of things to see and things to do–white water rafting and fishing are next on my list. The name of this post comes from excerpts of Italo Calvino’s letters, which were published on Brain Pickings, a lovely website you should check out if you’re into quotations, writing, or general life advice. Calvino wrote: “To write well about the elegant world you have to know it and experience it to the depths of your being just as Proust, Radiguet and Fitzgerald did: what matters is not whether you love it or hate it, but only to be quite clear about your position regarding it.” My hopes for the summer? I just want to experience the elegant world.