Born as snow melt from the Sierra Nevadans in Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River runs eastward onto the Paiute Tribe Reservation and into Pyramid Lake. The icy waters, wild in parts and almost stagnant in others, flow directly through the heart of downtown Reno, Nevada. So “Renoites”, as we either fondly or bitterly describe ourselves as, call the Truckee ours.
Someone once told me it is one of the only large rivers in the States that runs from lake to lake, rather than into the sea. I am sitting down by the banks of the river tonight thinking about this assertion. I have never bothered to validate it but right now, an epiphany tells me this is why the Truckee is irrevocably special. Out of the 120 miles the river travels, the waters are never lost in the expansion of the ocean. The river stays with us.
It’s apparent that some nostalgic ecstasy has overcome me tonight, one that I imagine Dorothy must have felt when she opened her eyes again after clicking her red, shiny heels together. It’s this river, I am convinced, that has brought on this philosophical idealism.
I’ve been away for the past seven months in Florence studying Italian, Renaissance art and many other things that won’t be found anywhere near where I am sitting right now. While traveling around Italy and the rest of Europe, I’d spent a fair amount of breaths explaining a little about what Reno is, but mostly justifying what it is not. Reno has a hard reputation. If someone has heard of it all, their preconceptions about it most likely exist around gambling, prostitution, quick marriages and even quicker divorces.
Reno has come a long way from the days when it inspired sadism in Johnny Cash’s songwriting. But the truth be told, this town’s sin laden past is still very much a part of its fabric.
Just take tonight. Thanks to the nearby casinos and their flashing lights, the late night sky is glowing with florescent pinks, neon greens and other colors that most places buried after the 80’s. The local “river rats”, the young louts who make the riverbanks their mischievous playground, are starting fires down by the water and throwing things into it that spark and explode. My friends Mike and Andrew are singing loud, off-key renditions of Neil Young songs and folks who pass by don’t even bother to give them a glance.
To an outsider, this city coined as “The Biggest Little City in the World” must seem like a freak show. But right now, I’m finding it hard to remember why a blush of shame often burned my cheeks when I told the haughty Italians where I was born.
This river, this place, this night is beautiful. And the Arno doesn’t stand a chance against the mighty, spiritual crux that is the Truckee River.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: MaiLynn is a Reno, Nevada native who calls Wellington, New Zealand (for now). She blogs about ever evolving search for home and sense of “identity” in strange places with strange people all over the planet.