“I don’t go to Santa Fe anymore; it just isn’t what it used to be.” She was New Mexico born and bred, still lives in Albuquerque, and goes to Taos for what Santa Fe used to be. I have been visiting Santa Fe for almost 20 years, and I have my own ideas of what Santa Fe is, and was: It is a city with many identities, and I don’t think it was ever what it used to be.
In Santa Fe, I am Opie: I am open, I am kind, I listen. It is an interesting persona for me, and for a few minutes out of their day, people can unload some part of their identities on a stranger who listens, who they will not see again. On a whim I went to a Creative Mornings Santa Fe event. The speaker was a physicist, and while he was interesting, it was the mixer before the talk that was stimulating. I talked to Sharon for about half an hour: she had seen someone fill in the name badge blank under “I’m curious to know about your . . . .” with “first love,” and she told me not about her first love, but about her last love. A white woman who grew up in a tiny Hispanic village thinking she “fit in,” only realizing as she really grew up that she fit in only because of the kindness of her neighbors, and that then as now, she was never going to fit into her Hispanic lover’s world.
I think I fit in, until something happens that tells me I do not: A look from someone who wonders what an Asian woman could possibly know about small town architecture, or multiple histories of settlement of the American West, or distorted symbolism(s) of the Alamo . . . I think racism doesn’t apply to me, until it applies.
But then, on my last day in Santa Fe, a random act of joy:
A small act of inclusion and acceptance from a stranger.
In between, a thought-provoking interactive/immersive installation at the New Mexico Museum of Art: Pollination, by the art collective Postcommodity:
Enter a stall, insert token:
The shade goes up, and the show begins:
Nature, managed and controlled, not quite real, the object of desire in a land of little rain.