In Winnemucca, people are wearing cowboy hats without irony.
This began in Colorado. Secretly, you want cowboy boots. You lust them: red leather, heeled cowboy boots like Buddy had in the first grade, but you are trying to hold out until Austin. You are trying to let go of your irony.
Earlier, you saw a bald eagle. Earlier, you discovered Nevada smells like sage brush, which is the smell of what you use for cooking, but is stronger, is thick, wet, nettles.
Lunch is at the truck station/gas station/casino/hotel/gift shop/Mexican restaurant. There is no daylight anywhere. You are the only one speaking English, though you are not speaking. The language fills in around you, happy, distinct.
You order pork stewed in green tamales. The actual name of the dish escapes you now. When it comes, the waiter looks worried. Everything runs together on the hot white plate, a soup of cheese, beans, rice, potatoes, pink meat.
Is this what you wanted? he asks.
I’ve never had it before, you say. But I want to.
All right, buddy, he smiles. He calls you buddy, which is a nice change from honey.