Meg Tuite has been transplanted into big sky country and now blasts through the red dust on her 100 XL Honda like a complete asshole. When she...read more is supposed to slow down for turns, she hits the gas and goes flying. Flight is an extraordinary thing. Your face in the dirt is a deep experience.
my blog: megtuite.com
WHEN I FIRST MOVED to a small mining town called Madrid, located about thirty miles outside of Santa Fe, I was in shock. I grew up in Chicago, moved to New York for a while and lived in Montreal for a few years. I cried for the first few months after I arrived in this town of fewer than 300 people. We were two different species, myself and them, although after I let down my guard and got to know most of the residents, I found they had lived all over the world. They called it the "breakdown and breakthrough" when someone like me arrived and tears were just wavering behind my watery bloodshot eyes when anyone smiled at me or stopped to talk.
Every driver in every car I passed waved at me. What the hell was this?
We looked at each other in the cities and maybe said a few words here and there, but we didn’t expect much more than that nor want it. Anonymity was a gift in a metropolis. Nobody knew your business and if they did, they could care less, unless you were infringing on their territory.
A line of three or four cars was considered traffic here. In Chicago when I was stuck for hours on the Dan Ryan Expressway, moving from one lane to the other, someone was always flipping me the bird or shaking his fist, so this was a strange encounter of some dimension I had never before reached, when strangers smiled and waved at me as I passed them. I would wave back and start crying again like the basket case I had become.
There’s a certain way of being in the city. That was who I was. I didn’t know anything else. I walked through the streets with my armor up. I had some whack-job come up and smack me in the head when I was waiting in line at an ATM on Michigan Avenue. Many guys had followed me home. I watched them from the corner of my eye, tracking their movements. I had to run my ass off more than a few times. I moved with closed-in shoulders as if I were a linebacker and to release was not so easy.
I was standing in line at this tiny grocery called The Lone Butte General Store named after the butte of a cute mountain that stood behind the store. The guy in front of me was probably a guy I would have avoided in New York or Chicago. He was over 300 lbs, leathered Harley-style from top to bottom, and had a beard covering his entire body and a smirk that made sense to me. I knew him. I had seen him in every city. There had never been an encounter between the two of us, EVER! He didn’t give a shit about me and I was on survival watch. My eyeballs were focused on inanimate objects, not moving objects that could crush me in one glance. I was holding a cherry pie that was actually homemade by one of the store owners.
This massive guy turned to look at me and said, “You can’t buy that without some Haagen-Dazs ice cream.” He had the sweetest grin. “They go hand-in-hand, especially the vanilla.” I smiled at him. The tears made their entrance and I lumbered off to the frozen section to get my ice cream. When I returned, he turned to me with his index finger up and said, “And don’t forget to heat it up.” I nodded, unable to speak at that point.
One bar in Madrid was called the Mine Shaft Tavern. I went in there one night when there was a local band playing. It was packed. I was with my sister, who had moved to Madrid straight from Brooklyn and had loved it so much she talked me into something I had wanted to be talked into, which was getting off the rat wheel I’d been treading. I had been in advertising and hated it. I wanted to jump off the whole damn continent of the manswarm and find myself isolated somewhere, out there where no one could reach. I was fucking tired of dressing up and the blare of alarm clocks and all the goddamn people. I wanted to be sequestered somewhere away from the me that I had become amidst the masses.
So I sat in this bar drinking a beer and watched couples dance. It took me a while to get how extraordinary this place really was. There were cowboy redneck-looking types dancing next to two lesbians, next to two Native Americans, next to two gay men, next to two tattooed city-looking folk, next to two Rastafarians, next to two Sikh’s with their white turbans, next to toothless and armless,ragged beauties with wrinkles bearing the brunt of the power of the sun on their faces. And all of them were as expansive and crazy as the sky out here. Big sky. They didn’t seem to give a shit, and yet they gave you all their shit if you stopped to talk with any of them. There was nothing to hide in a landscape that blasted through your retinas like an atomic bomb. Hence the desert, the stark reality, the closeness to Los Alamos where the first detonations trembled the planet.
So I cried. I drank my beers and cried. I loved this exotic tomb of a town that didn’t give a shit who or what I wanted to be or who I’d been. I was patterned with the backlash of my violent past of a childhood, jumped from roof to roof to see if I’d survive, stole anything I could to get caught, ran from the cops, sniffed, snorted, inhaled anything that would transform my reality into something bigger than the neighborhood I grew up in.
I loved these people. I loved the desert. I got a dirt bike and roared through the dust letting myself crash, just because I could. There were no expectations here. Everyone had a story and everyone had been judged.
What was it that brought the flaws to the surface and let them float in a place where there was barely any water? What was it that expanded the reservoir of oneness in a place that had so many refugees who hailed from so many diverse places?
Okay, so I was still crying. The amazing part was that people smiled at me, hugged me, instead of diagnosing me. They didn’t give a shit. They just let me sob and be. I wasn’t carted off to the ward.
One girl asked if I’d been to the petting zoo. I felt like the entire town was a petting zoo, but answered in the negative despite. She took me to the next town over, Cerrillos, only a mile away. We sat in the dust for hours, feeding peanuts to goats, llamas and horses.
This was the way the planet moved here. It was all naked and timeless and heart.