Woke up this morning thinking of the summer I spent working at a bookstore– The Book Train– in a small mountain town outside Aspen. We had an old CD player and only a very limited selection of CDs that we were allowed to play at the store, most of which were in the vein of Simon & Garfunkel and the Indigo Girls and Loreena McKennit. The only set I found listenable was Johnny Cash’s American III, which consisted solely of an elderly Cash and his guitar doing a pantheon of covers in his gravely voice, and which I must have played hundreds of times over the course of those months.
Summer was off-season in Colorado, and the bookstore was not heavily trafficked, so most days I just spent reading; on my days off I’d drive into Aspen to visit the art museum, which at the time had this Damien Hirst show that included both his butterfly paintings and various sheep heads in formaldehyde, and to hang out with my friend D., who was working as a 911 dispatcher for the area. In the evenings, for money, I did occasional nude modeling for some of the wealthy faux-photographers summering there. I sometimes wonder what happened to those photos.
It was such a sweet and sleepy summer, looking back on it, though at the time I felt so lost and bereft and out-of-place there, neither local nor tourist but someone almost accidentally passing through. I drove through the town again last summer, on my way from Los Angeles to Denver. The Book Train was still there but I didn’t go in.