Santa Fe 40th
Home. Many will argue the meaning or definition of home and in this moment living in Portland my childhood memories remain distinct and oddly clear. It was never a place I saw myself remaining due to it’s complete lack of opportunity and odd devotion to isolation and art despite the undercurrent of each individual seeking constant social acceptance or justification. I’ve heard that Santa Fe is a place people go to escape and find themselves or simply to remain lost.
My parents left New York City for the quiet life of a high altitude desert town. My father, a Ph.D. in mathematics, was working at IBM and pretty much set himself up for a future as a tenured professor at a prestigious Ivy League school. His problem, like many people who wind up in Santa Fe, was that he was lost and felt there was more to life. Looking at his new born child (me) may have given him pause and may have changed his perspective from a life of individual progression to a selfless pursuit for meaning as a family. Santa Fe offered both the solitude and the spiritual charm for souls wander. It’s expansive views and shifting colors offer a canvas for the mind to explore farther into the void of being, and of living.
As a result my sister and I enjoyed a childhood of being truly free. Home was a place of dirt, construction, warmth, food, and love. Life could not have felt more simple in those first 10 years and it’s those years that remain a core of who I am and what I believe. I often return mentally to those days living at the bottom of a dirt road col du sac in an adobe house with huge wood vigas stretching across the ceiling with pure white plaster between. It was much like an old church and the spiritually that resonated through the halls of that house may be one reason why no church has ever lived up to the experience.
Moving home, Junior High, High school while smattered with good memories was the germination of a realization that Santa Fe’s tiny little word high atop a grand plateau was not paradise. Jobs were scarce, poverty was high, and extreme wealth was too close and too uncaring. It was easy to quickly become jaded with society and feel an overbearing sense of unfairness about the world. Not that this feeling goes away or doesn’t exist elsewhere but somehow Santa Fe magnifies this hopelessness. I personally was oppressed by it. My final escape was in 1999 when my Sabine and I drove a U-Haul to Portland Oregon.
Eight years later I returned as part of a Birthday trip. Both Sabine and I loved Santa Fe’s charms like a creamy flan that enchants you with it’s uniqueness. The views surrounding are magical, spectacular, and breathtaking. The sky, the air, the distant thunderstorms that travers the horizon like purple silk curtains draped around energetic dancers of lighting. Each flash revealing, for only an instant, massive thunderous clouds towering above. Santa Fe’s weather was my church.
If you have never been to New Mexico there is no easy way to explain the blue skies. I could describe the color, or the expansiveness, or how it contrasts with its surroundings. In the end you’d be left with a Crayola crayon version of the reality.
I used to walk to school every day from 1st grade till 6th down this same dirt road. At the end was a grocery story run by an older couple that served candy. Today the story is a gallery but the road is still dirt and deep within its ruts exist my foot prints.
When folks think of Bandelier the think of the Indian ruins carved into the cliff walls. But a longer hike reveal New Mexican wonders of plants and cliffs.