On Sunday in Santa Fe, deep into a conversation with an old friend as I parked my cheesy rental car, I got out and locked my keys in the car while it was still running. In my defense, I´ve been driving for 30 years, and this is the first time I ever locked my keys in the car. So I called AAA, and hung out to wait for their arrival (hot tip: telling them your car is still running gets you expedited service). As I sat there, various strangers came by, laughed with me about my predicament, and tried to figure out how to break into the car. A nice man named Larry hung around for awhile and kept checking up on me. Someone else offered to run into the store we were in front of and get me a cold drink. Because, you know, I´d been sitting awhile in the sun.
When I go to
Having left almost a decade ago, how was it going back? Was it like going home? Well, no. The most important difference is the lack of framework; I was just another dopey tourist on vacation, taking up a parking space and looking for the best hike on the ski basin road. I wasn´t living there. I wasn´t shaping my day around my kids´ school hours and my work hours, trying to squeeze in a run to the grocery store before picking the kids up from daycare. For the first two days, I admit: it felt very strange.
And then it all became better. Because I realized, and this is a little sad, that in many ways I was appreciating Santa Fe more as a visitor. For much of the time we lived there I had two small children, and a job with long hours. I struggled, as many people do, looking for that famous life/work balance. Most of the time I felt like I was failing as a mother. I had a great career going; it was my parenting that could have used some improvement. And I´ll be honest, that struggle seemed particularly ironic in a city where many people had gone to retreat from their fast-paced lives somewhere else. I had the scenery, but the kicked-back lifestyle often eluded me.
On this trip, I took care of some business we still have there. But the rest of it was given over to pleasure. New Mexicans/Santa Feans are sensualists, one of the great good things about that place that I miss so much. There is time for an excellent meal, for chatting over the wall, for a cerveza and listening to music. There is time for a hike on the Borrego Trail, followed by a lunch you packed yourself, taking in the satisfaction of a long hike, to be followed later on by a brutal/wonderful massage in the building that used to be the grocery store. I scheduled various activities with various friends and not once did it cross my mind to make a backup plan in case they found themselves working late or otherwise confounded by a change of plans. Nobody apologizes for making time for their own pleasure. Feeling good is supposed to be part of your day, if you’re living your life right. People in New Mexico laugh a lot, and I laugh right along with them.
I came home (wait for it!) with a rested spirit and a renewed sense of purpose, and really – what more could you want from a vacation to anywhere? (Full disclosure: I also came home with tacky souvenirs and an entire extra suitcase of frozen Bueno green chile.) I got to be nice to people who were nice to me, and I´m going to hang on to that feeling while I clean up the joint around here and get some work done. I think I´ll burn some pinon incense and recollect that giant blue bowl of a sky. So, from me to you, with no irony and snark, for just this once – peace, and I´ll be back to sniffing soon.
Canyon Road, Santa Fe: blueberrycreek.com