One of the stories I’m writing these days is set outside Taos, New Mexico, in the Greater Earth Community where one can find Earthships, structures made of repurposed materials like tires, soda cans, and bottles. But this post isn’t about Earthships (but I did write a poem about it here) although they are pretty cool. It’s about New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment and its beautiful skies.
It’s one of the things I miss about the state; that, and the wonderful people. It’s where a Taos elder, after asking me if I was of this tribe or that tribe, and by the fourth guess when I still said no, told me that it didn’t matter what tribe I belonged, that from that moment on, I was one of them and he gave me a smudge stick to keep. It’s where friends I never knew stepped in to give a heartbroken girl support and made me laugh and remember how it felt to be happy. And I remember telling myself then, that one day, when I’d start writing stories again, I’d write one that was set in New Mexico. And now I am.
It’s like being somewhere you’ve never physically been, but the moment your plane lands and you step out, your heart just knows…you’re home.
You’re embarking on a yearlong round-the-world adventure, and can take only one small object with you to remind you of home. What do you bring along for the trip?
I’m not religious. I’m what you’d call a lapsed catholic who knows way more about Buddha and Celtic beliefs than how to recite the Our Father (if they ever stop updating it!). But if there’s one thing that I will bring on a year-long adventure to explore the world, I’d bring the rosary my mother gave me before I left home for good.
It smells of roses and is supposedly made from rose petals shaped into beads. Someone who went to Italy gave it to her and when I noticed that it still sat in the same container year after year, unused (she’s a lapsed catholic, too), I asked her if I could have it. I remember how she thought I’d choose jewelry, but no, it was a simple rosary for me – I’m low maintenance that way.
This little thing is the one thing that reminds me of home. I can’t even recite the rosary but I like feeling and smelling the beads. I like lifting it out of its circular container and then putting it back down, hear the soft sound that the beads and their the metal findings make against each other and the plastic.
If there’s anything that reminds me of home – the home where I grew up where we didn’t grow any roses for my mother and stepfather preferred orchids, it’s this simple rosary that after all these years, still smells of roses.
You just inherited $1,000,000 from an aunt you didn’t even know existed. What’s the first thing you buy (or otherwise use the money for)?
My mom won the lottery when I was about 11 or 12 – and it was a terrible time for me. You see, all I wanted was that we move away from where we were currently living then, which was right next door to my grandparents and aunts and uncles in a busy street that belonged to my mother’s grandfather. You couldn’t sneeze without anyone knowing about it – and neither could my mother.
I remember how we looked at houses in the nicer parts of town, where all my other school friends lived. They were sprawling houses, with big rooms and airy spaces, so unlike the busy street we lived in, where houses were so close together and medical students were everywhere for there was a university just a stone’s throw away.
All I wanted when my mother won the lottery was her independence. And with each house she looked at, freedom for me – the air, the space – was within reach.
But then my mother did what her parents and all her brothers and sisters told her to do. Instead of moving into a beautiful house in a subdivision away from all the crowded and always-flooded streets, she stayed where she was. She renovated her little duplex, with illusions that made it larger than it was, and then gambled the rest of the money away, including the duplex itself.
So if I inherited a million dollars, this is what I would do. I will know who my friends are, first of all – and that includes relatives and those who will claim to be so (because they will come out from the woodwork the way they did when my mother won) – and I will hire a financial adviser to take care of all my money. I will pay off my debts and with the money left over, set aside a decent amount for my son that will earn interest as he grows up. Then from whatever left over, buy a little house somewhere where there is a lot of sun and trees, not too far from neighbors, and with a yard where I can put up a hammock and read a book, and maybe grow hollyhocks that will grow as high as the rooftops.
For even hollyhocks know how much they need the sun and the space in order to survive and most of all, to bloom.