The very place in which I live and work and breathe is, like many places, a town with wide extremes between its inhabitants. But even in all it shares with other places, Santa Fe is one of those joints that exists mostly in the eye of the beholder. Since there’s very few opportunities or mechanisms to close the gap between the healthy and the unhealthy: It doesn’t take a whole lot effort to recognize which is which, either. Nope. All it takes is to walk through any crowd with eyes wide open. The healthy smile easy and free, while the unhealthy see the world through switch-blade eyes cutting the world around them with stares that are at once accusatory and afraid. That’s life in Santa Fe, New Mexico: It’s either healthy or unhealthy and there aren’t many who are in between. Which is which is largely a matter of perspective.
If you google Santa Fe, you’d learn about how it’s the oldest Capital in the U.S. and about it’s primarily tricultural population. If you’re reading a tourist site, you’d even see that Santa Fe is the third largest art market in the entire country. While it might be those things, living here and having descended from people who’ve lived in this city for hundred of years, I know it as a place that isn’t always what it presents. Really, it’s a confused place. By the criterion for possession, Santa Fe may be a prime candidate. Since it doesn’t know, nor has it ever really known, if it wants to be a place of Holy Faith, as its name indicates, or if it wants to be a liberal and cosmopolitan place where people can live and let live. As far as I can tell, Santa Fe has always been a place where its reality conflicts with the marketing people who sell it for the highest bid.
But, regardless of the perspective, I don’t see how anyone could argue that Santa Fe, with its extreme disparities, could be anything but confused. And since I’m not a fan of recursion, I won’t get into the argument about whether Santa Fe’s inhabitants created the confusion or if the place’s own history created the confused inhabitants. Doesn’t matter: There’s a whirlpool that spins as a result of the polar opposites ramming right into each other. Any one of us residents can get sucked into that whirling dervish of questions that don’t have easy answers. Could it be that we’re all awaiting a rupture of blackness to cascade over and around and through us as we spin out of control?
To me, Santa Fe is home. Really, all of Northern New Mexico is home. When I travel on cracked two-lane highways to visit the northern streams and lakes that provide the water to our Southern neighbors, I breathe easy and I believe that those easy breaths derive from my own deep connection to the land. It’s as if the waters of the Pecos River are my own blood and their paths down through the State are my very veins. But, . I sense that the entire northern section of New Mexico has been connected to a life support machine and that doctors hover hoping to disconnect the power and let my home die.