I suffered a significant loss in my personal life this past week, right after Christmas, and on days when I thought my heart might burst, I talked to friends and wrote pointless essays and did a lot of praying and meditating. Finally, after four days of aimless wandering through what felt like an emotional minefield, I got a call from my friend Haleigh in Taos. “Come see me,” she said. “You can stay at my place and I’ll feed you and keep your wine glass full and listen to you talk.”
Spending a couple of days with an old friend felt like the right thing to do, and getting out of what suddenly felt like a really lonely house also didn’t seem like a bad idea. So I packed a bag, loaded my car, and hit the road on Friday afternoon.
I thought that the friend time was going to be the great distraction and that it would help my heartache. What I didn’t really think about was the fact that driving through northeastern New Mexico would be so healing.
In fact, I dreaded the driving – I thought that traveling roads where I had recently been with the source of my heartache might prove even more difficult than staying at home.
But here’s what happened. I started the climb up David Hill near Mosquero and my heart started to sing along with Brad Paisley on my Mp3 player. I was reminded of my long and happy life in New Mexico, all the basketball trips I took in an activity bus, all the vacations to Tres Ritos with my family, all the ski trips with college friends. I got to Roy with Lyle Lovett singing “Step Inside This House” in my ear, and started the descent into the Canadian River Canyon on my way to Wagon Mound. I remembered my trip there last Spring for a Hartley family event, how I stood on the edge of the Canyon and took pictures with Johanna. Guy Clark started to sing “Boats to Build” and I sang along, happy to be exactly where I was at that moment in my life.
I got to Cimarron while Asleep at the Wheel was playing a Bob Wills tune, and instead of being paralyzed with grief, I was wishing I could go to the St. James for a beer at the bar and some dancing.
It was dark when I got to Taos, but Haleigh showed me to my room and said, “You can see Taos Mountain right out that window at the end of the hall.” I went to bed anticipating a restless night like all the ones in the four days before, but I slept better than I had all week, and in the morning, I got out of bed with a smile, anxious to get a look at her view. It was better than I had imagined.
I am a New Mexico girl. That’s no secret to any of you. This is my home, and it nurtures me just like being at my mother’s kitchen table with a cup of coffee does. When I look out across those plains at Wagon Mound, or across the interstate to where I know Ocate lies at the foot of the hills, I feel calm and at ease. When I saw Taos Mountain on Saturday morning, I knew for certain that I was going to be just fine. Better than ever, actually. I knew I was home and that I was safe.
I am still sad some days, but it’s not debilitating, and I know each day is really just another chance to learn something new about myself. What I know for certain is that I couldn’t bear this if I were living elsewhere. I need my New Mexico plains and canyons and mountains. They help me make sense of everything else. I love New Mexico.Pin It