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Back Home in T-Town

July 25, 2008


It was an absolute pleasure to end my Southwest trip here in Taos. It has always been a magical place for me. When I was much younger my parents bought a house out here. My Father went to College in Denver, and my Mom ran off to Aspen when she was younger, so they both had a strong affinity towards the Southwest despite being New Yorkers. Ever since they purchased the house our family spent our summers and most winters here in Taos, so I’ve always considered myself half Northeasterner, and half Southwesterner, with Chatham and Taos being my two homes. 

After saying good-bye to my friends in Santa Fe I started the long trek in my crappy little rental car up through Espanola up to Taos. A beautiful drive, and one I could probably draw with my eyes closed. The most spectacular part of the drive is when you rise up over that hill and see the Taos mountains for the first time. Close your eyes (well, maybe after you’ve read this) and imagine you are driving up a long winding road up a steep hill. The bluest sky in the world is in front of you, and when you summit you see a huge flat plain, covered with grey/green sage-brush everywhere. To the left runs a long gorge, splitting the earth open as though a giant used his gardening tools to create an enormous trench in the earth. To the right mountains shoot out of the earth, standing over the small town below it like massive sentinels. Above the mountains voluptuous white clouds full of rain hover over tops, waiting to unleash a deluge upon the spruce and aspen denizens of the forest. 
Instead of taking the back-roads short cut I drove leisurely along the main strip, checking out the subtle changes. A new Applebys, Rallys was now an Albertson’s, Smith’s had a renovation, the old BBQ was now a burger joint. I know change is inevitable, but it’s always so sad to me seeing this town change. Finally I arrived at the edge of town, and took the winding rim road to my house. It had been a little under two years since I had been there last (Winter of ’06 to be exact). My parents were in the midst of serious renovations of the house, almost completely tearing down everything but the dining room, living room, one bathroom, and the guest room. I had seen most of the final product, but none of the landscaping. I happened to be in New Mexico just when they were having an extremely wet summer. The house was beautiful. They planted two Apens groves, one on either side of the house, flowers all around the walls, and an herb garden in the back. It was stunning to see the house, it’s so beautiful now. 
My Mom and Dad came out and we all hugged and said our hellos. Mike and Molly (our dogs) came out and waved ‘hi’ with their tales as well. Mike was really cute. He stuck by me for awhile, and wouldn’t stop rubbing his nose into me. He’s definitely my Father’s dog, but I think Mike likes having me around cause he knows I’ll take him for walks through the woods and snow-shoe hikes in the winter. 
My days were very brief, and the entire trip seemed to fly by. The next day I spent helping my Father with the storage unit, then we had dinner an saw ‘Batman: The Dark Knight’ in town (excellent movie). We also had a beautiful bike ride out by Wild Rivers national park, where the Rio Grande and Red Rivers converge, along with a very nice picnic. We also went fly fishing out by the Valle Caldera, just South of the New Mexico-Colorado border. I had never fly-fished before, so it was fun to try out. By the end of the day I could cast the line straight, but without having a fish on the other end of it I could never tell if I was doing it right or not. But it was great to be out in nature again. The Valle Caldera was this stunning mix of a winding river, open plains, and tall ponderosa pine sticking up as though the entire valley had goose bumps.
The next day my Dad and I drove up to Albuquerque in his NSX (or as my Mom calls it, his “mid-life-crisis-mobile”), stopping at El Parasol in Espanola for some tacos. He also let me drive his car from Tesuque up to Albuquerque which was fun. I remember my road trips with my father in the same car when I was younger. Driving across country in the little red spaceship, listening to ‘Lord of the Rings’ on tape. 
My flight was fairly quick, and before I knew it I was looking down at LA. Stepping off I immediately knew where I was, the stale air hanging between the tall palms.  My Dad asked me before I left if it felt like I was going home when I return to LA. I told him the last time I did it felt like it, and I wouldn’t know for sure until I landed. Now that I’m here back in my place, with my plants, and my cat, and my local stores and shops. I’m still not sure. I am home. This is where I live, but I can’t help but feel part of me will always be held captive by the sweeping vastness of New Mexico. It’s the reason why the locals call it the “Land of Entrapment.” 
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One Comment leave one →
  1. John Ryan Cottam permalink
    August 15, 2008 7:29 pm

    Way to represent Chris! Wish I could have chilled with you. Remember the days when we were going to cruise The Storyteller in our father’s red rockets? Yeah… we still need to do that!!

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