Monday, January 03, 2011

Parts Unknown


There's something special about sitting around a comfortably warm room in a cozy little old house on a freezing cold Santa Fe day and listening to Great-Grandmother spin yarns for the benefit of the Great-Grandson, who has a school project to interview a relative and write a paper about their life.

Great Granny

There's something special about Great-Granny telling her Great-Grandson how, prior to WWII, she passed her secretarial school final exams by typing 60 words per minute, with less than three errors, over a duration of 5 minutes, on a manual Underwood typewriter. This is especially significant because said Grandson is himself a fledgling manual typist (of the hunt-and-peck sub-species).

The Line Writer

There's something special about seeing the cub reporter with his notebook and pencil furiously scribbling notes, barely keeping up with the stories as they fly like birds up to the ceiling and hover around, wings-a-flapping, circling back around for another reiteration, as Great-Grannies are want to do.

Santa Fe Station

It was a clear and bitterly cold day in Santa Fe, just clearing up from a New Year's eve snow storm, ice and glazed, packed snow covering the shaded portions of streets and sidewalks, making travel treacherous. We got into town a bit too early for our interview, so spent a few hours down on the Plaza, playing the role of tourist, which we do with a mixture of reluctance and reserved expectation, knowing that we aren't in the market for high-dollar art priced for the deservedly wealthy, yet enjoy window shopping and watching the tourists amble by. We end up eating lunch at Tomasita's, near the train station, seated in a corner booth in the crowded bar, watching the noontime regulars throw back their margaritas with plates of tamales and enchiladas. The waiting room quickly fills to overflowing with eager patrons, blasts of cold air accompanying each door's opening, then empties again as groups large and small, slim and fat, are seated, served and satiated, who then amble out into the cold, making room for another crowded foyer of hungry shoppers.

On Santa Fe Plaza

Winter in Santa Fe is a unique blend of southwestern style, religious tradition and commercial kitsch, all blended together amongst a spider's web of cracked and pot-holed streets glazed over with the dirt and grunge from the recent storms. Visitors from afar are expectant of something magical, spiritual even, to accompany their visit to The City Different, the challenge being to overlook the crust of decay and neglect long enough to see below the surface of things with a deeper insight. Santa Fe isn't Disneyland for New Agers; far from it. Coming away from a visit with renewed insight requires leaving something behind. One has to make room for the new by dispensing of something tired and useless.

The Pensive Writer

We've eaten our lunch, our bellies are full, and finally it's time to drive over to Great-Granny's for the Big Interview. We finally finish, an hour later, and say our goodbyes and depart, to drive the hour-long trek down the interstate highway back to Albuquerque, the late day's winter sun setting orange in the west, the temperature rapidly plummetting for another frigid night in the mountain west.

Courage...

But our hearts, bellies and notebooks are filled, and we have work yet to do.

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~Joe

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