For most of the last decade I have lived in small villages north of Santa Fe, NM. Santa Fe was always the big town that I went to for the wonders of Trader Joes and Vitamin College for gluten free pizza crusts and Nut Thins. Even when I lived in the South San Juan mountains near Alamosa, CO, Santa Fe was the big town and the three hour drive for a trip to Target and Artisan not to mention a few yarn stores and maybe Collected Works was a trip to the big city. So for ten years I have been dodging around Santa Fe and thinking about it as an artist community and not really a place that I live... until now. Now, I'm from Santa Fe.
Santa Fe is a place that seems grounded in some ways with its attractive, curvy, adobe-lined, narrow streets and 400 year history. And in other ways, it is a town with widely ranging ideas politically and socially and it doesn't seemed grounded in anything. Santa Fe is relatively small especially compared to Albuquerque's sprawling, gridded, valley-bottom messiness. I can drive from one side to the other in 15 minutes. But it is not the little villages I came from. I'm hoping that Santa Fe's small city status will be something that I can deal with being the girl from the mountains who searches for by-ways out of the way of mainstream America and likes to live on the tops of mountains and mesas in spots that are sometimes not strictly accessible by her Volkswagen Golf.
Rural New Mexico is a place where dusty sedans and pickup trucks filled with people and dogs sit on pull outs on the side of the highway every day every few miles waiting for their kids to get off the bus at 3:23 in the afternoon. It is a place where we struggle to educate our kids, our teachers, and our professionals. We have a large drug culture and low rankings in education and health care for children.
NM is a place that is brutally dry and only getting drier. The land around El Rito where I used to live has been chewed through by pine beetles and all of the pinon pine are dead leaving juniper sentinels standing alone surrounded by pockets of rotted and falling over pinon trees.
SF river is a bone of contention among Santafeans. It is dry most of the time. The town is trying to find water to make it run but there isn't any water. I recently took a hike into the Santa Fe National Forest and came just to the edge of the forbidden zone--Santa Fe's watershed. Here is one of the touted three "lakes" that are Santa Fe's emergency water supply. Does this look like enough water to fill hot tubs and water grass for 60,000 plus people? (Fortunately very few people in Santa Fe actually have grass.)
Those mountain and mesa tops will always be places that sustain me and will be places that I return to over and over again. But I need to look toward a more sustainable future and that means living somewhere where I can ride my bike down the rail trail to my studio and to the hospital to work. And it means choosing the house and studio in town instead of the place on the mesa with a view.
Perhaps it remains to be seen whether the drying of the southwest will continue and my favorite part of the country will become one big ghost town because of lack of water. If we as humans continue on the current path with global warming and unsustainable living practices, I don't see how the American Southwest can survive because it will be completely dry. But for today, maybe we can start a revolution. (Forgive me. The drought and the heat and the fires have prodded me upon a little soapbox.)
I know that my peripatetic tendencies have been a little frustrating to people in my life at times. Some people can't fathom moving as frequently as I have. Some people say I just can't figure out where I want to be. I think the truth, in part, is that the particular place is something I need to experience and then somehow life shifts and I need to move on to another experience. So I can't say that I will always be from Santa Fe. But I am here now and I will make the most of it.