In the Girls in the Basement class, the discussion this week is on love. As it happened, I was scheduled to go to Albuquerque for a panel yesterday, and having emailed a big chunk of the book the my agent, I was free to take an artist’s date. So I landed early and took a cab to Old Town. It was still early and quiet. Daffodils bloomed in pots around the little secret plazas. I drank coffee with an old man named Peaches, who shared his Albuquerque Journal with me. He offered to drive me to UNM in his school bus, but I wanted to shop lightly, because the Girls really like cheap silver and turquoise. I bought some silver studs, and a thin airy turquoise scarf and and a red stone heart for the writing altar, as was required for this week’s exercises. It was hard to find a taxi back, but I remembered there was a hotel close by and went there, and they got one for me. The driver was named Sammi. He had an Arabic accent and promised to come back for me for the trip to the airport. He sent his friend, instead, a man who had come to Albuquerque from the Sudan to go to college at UNM, fourteen years ago. We talked about Gov. Richardson and his chances for the presidency.
The photos are from my camera phone and not particularly brilliant, but better than no art at all. I’ll spare you the sketches, though I liked a couple of them very much.
Notes from the plane on the way home:
–The Rio Grande and Sandias at sunset. The mountains to the east, sky that orange mango pink, the land austure, severe, pinons and arroyos and a sudden shimmer of lights all in a cluster at the head of a valley, like spilled yellow rhinestones.
The sky so vivid. Like blood beneath skin. Alien skin. (This morning I think of the name for that color: vermillion) The depth of color is like melted crayon.
Then I wrote, with love splitting my heart (like a red heart afire, burning in my chest): "The west, the west, the west, vast and vast and vast. "
What places split your heart open?
4 thoughts on “Rio Grande and Sandias at sunset”
If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be giving you this answer, I would have said you’re crazy, but the place that splits my heart open is Miami. I had to leave and travel and live other places to realize it’s where my heart feels most at home. The mélange of languages and cultures and the dragonfly quickness with which people move, yet they still stop to have a cafecito and pastel. And the ocean. I’m an ocean person. There’s nothing better than sitting on the beach with a storm approaching, watching the waves turn in on themselves and attack the sand– or at dusk, when it’s quiet and you get a true sense of how vast it all is. And the music of the palm trees and the scent of the ocean.
I never would have thought my hometown would wind up being the place my heart feels most at home.
When I was visiting Boston in 2005, I fell in love with the whole city, but the best day was when I walked the freedom trail alone up to Charlestown. That little oasis in the middle of a city crawling with activity remains my clearest memory of my trip.
It seemed practically deserted. It was November, and nearly every brownstone’s front stoop was decorated with autumn colors and symbols of the harvest. Doors were painted in a myriad of colors, and the half doors leading to basements fascinated me.
When I climbed the monument, one of the few other people I saw that morning was at the top, and in conversation, we discovered we had both attended the same elementary school in Boulder, Colorado, although he was probably 15 years younger than me. I felt flirted with, and after my lungs practically burst while I climbed the 294 steps, making me feel old and worn out, I felt pretty and young again.
I stopped for lunch in a sandwich cafe where the man who waited on me argued with his father behind the counter in Italian between customers.
About 10 mentally retarded people were walking their dogs together in a park I passed through on my way back out of the area, and each one greeted me with trusting hospitality and friendliness.
It was one of those idyllic days that will live on in my heart and memory forever.
Lovely! I’d love to visit Miami. It seems it would be my kind of place. And Cuba, too.
Julie, that’s a great day!
There’s a spot to the west of the small town in Montana where my mother was born where you can stand in my aunt’s yard and see the mountains, smell the sharp tang of the pines, look up and see sky so blue it hurts your eyes. The very air seems to embrace me there. I look out on the valley and a ray of sunshine lights it and it feels like heaven on earth. Every time I experience it I can hardly speak.