When Mabel Dodge first saw the Taos Pueblo, she felt an intense surge of longing. In Edge of Taos Desert she writes:
"It was as though the Pueblo had an invisible wall around it, separating the Indians from the world we knew–a wall that kept their life safe within it, like a fire that cannot spread. "How self-contained it seems! I thought, and how contented it feels!" I mused to myself. "I wish I belonged in there!"
For many years after my father died, my mother and I traveled almost every summer from our home in Dallas to Santa Fe, staying at the old La Fonda Hotel. Sometimes we drove there, a seemingly endless and boring drive through the Texas Panhandle but an increasingly fascinating journey toward the end. It took us a few days to adjust to the altitude difference, so we would spend the first days keeping close to the main plaza.
On one trip we joined a group traveling to Taos, via the High Road. Toward the end of the day we stopped outside the Taos Pueblo. We got out and walked around for an hour, keeping a respectful distance between our tourist selves and the residents of the pueblo.
When it was time to board the van for the return trip, we could not find my mother anywhere. We waited thirty minutes. Finally, I spotted her walking out of a door in the Pueblo. I remember that she was wearing her typical smart Dallas fashion designer suit, with hose, high heels, and all the appropriate accessories, and I thought how comical she looked in that context.
When she sat down next to me in the van, I asked what she was doing in there. She said that she had struck up a conversation with a nice couple about their children and that they invited her to sit down. She had a great time. When the van pulled away from the Taos Pueblo, she told me she didn't feel like leaving. "I want to go back there," she said. "It's where I belong."
I love New York City, and I plan to stay for a long time. I feel, though, that there's a part of me I'm saving for later, the one that trades in urban canyons for longer memories and a much bigger sky.
See additional related posts here in this updated series.
Images: New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, House on Canyon Road, Santa Fe, and Lexington Avenue near 49th., NY, NY, 2008. You get the picture. Photos by Walking Off the Big Green Chili Pepper.