For many years, Cimarron was a stop
along the Santa
Fe Trail and a watering hole for the A-List of history's bad boys: Clay
Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James, Billy the Kid. Their presence
made Cimarron notorious for violence and mayhem. The word "cimarron"
is a Spanish word meaning something like "rowdy place," though
my Spanish-English dictionary says it can also mean "wild
"runaway slave." Cimarron even translates roughly.
So I was nervous as I drove into town.
Sure, I wanted
to see the place, and I'd made reservations for the fight...sorry,
night...at the St. James Hotel, one of the most elegant and
hotels in New Mexico. But I worried about historical leftovers.
is a town tied up inextricably in its own past. Bullet holes in the
of the St. James have been left intact for guests to...uh, admire.
even a list of people who were killed in the hotel posted in the lobby.
By staying in this town overnight, was I inviting trouble? Was I
putting a tooth under the pillow and wishing for the Violence Fairy to
show up? I unpacked my Neosporin and set in on the table by the bed,
I almost always sleep with a
even in winter. That night was no exception, but, unlike my bed at
there I had no electric blanket to combat the chilly air. I knew I
couldn't make it through the night in the cold, so I went to ask for
blanket. The host took me to an outdoor closet and found a warm blanket
for me to use. As I thanked him, he smiled and said he was happy to
because all men are brothers. Given Cimarron's history, this may have
the nicest thing that's ever been said there.
I lay in bed, warm and content,
listening to the
voices of the other guests. They were happy, laughing. Maybe Cimarron's
bark was worse than its bite. Maybe its reputation was no longer
I wondered, then, if the good things that were happening in Cimarron
could act as a bandaid, covering the wounds of the past and helping
heal. Bidding my brothers goodnight, I went to sleep.
I had my answer the next morning.
during the night a steady snowfall had begun, and it continued outside
my window into the morning. Every corner of the town had turned white.
It looked new and inviting, and in the subdued morning glow, even
I checked myself for bruises in the mirror and found none. Rowdy Place
had left me unharmed.
And I knew then that you can't
gone wrong in the past, but you can cover it with good things, like the
snow covers the ground or an extra blanket covers a shivering person.
the past a chance to do some healing underneath; then remove the
and see if the scar isn't a little better. It's worth the effort
after all, we're all brothers.