Monday, January 21, 2013

Impressions of New Mexico Part Dos

I got a brandy brand new rental car with five miles on the odometer.
“Wasted Years” was playing on the radio.

Before I got into the car tho, I had to stand in one of those interminable lines to get the rental car paperwork and I had to wonder (I had time to wonder), why is the rental car process in particular so tortured? Even airlines, train stations, movie theaters etc. have figured out how to make a check-in process at least somewhat easier. One of those instances in which it pays to be an elite member of a loyalty club.  

The food in New Mexico is very satisfying. First you get to know the difference between chili and chile very quickly. The former is a meaty, beany, stewy concoction commonly served over rice or noodles. The latter refers to peppers, the hotter the better. They smoke them in NM and serve them with just about everything … to good effect. There are lovely nuances from Mexican food and Tex Mex food. Suffice it to say I could eat my way through the state.

Back to driving. I had a pilgrimage to make, to Georgia O’Keeffe. I had a few hours to spare before a conference started, so I hightailed it over in my brand new rental car to Santa Fe from Albuquerque, pedal to the metal.

The route was pretty desolate. I kept thinking there were a lot of good places to dump a body.

I could see where New Mexico got its reputation for being quirky.

Signs along the way announced that New Mexico was celebrating its centennial of statehood in 2012, like Arizona, the Copper State. New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment, which I always like seeing on its license plates, it makes me smile. Enchantment is a strong word, a bold choice.

I was speeding. The sun was bright and plentiful, the air warm. ‘Breaking the Law’ came on the radio. It felt right.

Never slow down, never grow old.

Mary Jane’s Last Dance comes on the radio.

The variety of music on the radio was admirable.

I make it to Santa Fe in good time. It’s small but I wish I had more time to look around. I see a mission that looks interesting, and cute shops and restaurants. But I go directly to the Georgia O’Keeffe museum, do not pass go.

This has been on my list for years, and it’s smaller than I expected, but it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a nice, tight collection. They show two short videos/documentaries about her life and the homes /studios where she worked in the desert. They show photographs of her in action; camping gear from her many walkabouts. Scenes from her life with Stieglitz.

“It’s not where I’ve been or where I lived that matters, it’s what I’ve made of it.”

I grab a palmiere at an adorable little café and reluctantly get back in the rental car.

In the GOK gift shop, I had purchased a little notebook to keep on hand to record observations.


Those sound harsh, and I don’t mean them to.  NM just strikes me as not necessarily an easy place to live. Employment opportunities are probably hard to come by; the climate is unforgiving. I remember reading that education rates aren’t great, health an issue. The people are very friendly.

The light is sharp and somehow lovely. I can see why artists are attracted to and inspired by this part of the world.

My conference goes well. The hotel is done in Southwestern style, tastefully. I admire the wrought iron chandeliers and tiled floors.

I’d like to come back, bring my husband. Check out the ski areas (and their spas), Area 51, that mission in Santa Fe. Los Alamos, the Santa Fe Rail and the Rail Runner. Downtown Albuquerque. The Santa Fe Brewing Company. Georgia O’Keeffee’s home. More of that food. The light.

“I close my eyes, and think of home,
Another city goes by, in the night,
Ain't it funny how it is, you never miss it til it's gone away,
And my heart is lying there and will be til my dying day.

So understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years,
Face up... make your stand,
And realise you're living in the golden years.” 

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