Friday, June 5, 2015

Sandy Fay: the City Different

Memphis had been Jonesboro big. It had all the inconveniences of a big city and all the inconveniences of a small town. And the climate sucked. The differences of Santa Fe began to be obvious on 5 July as Lin and I began to tour the city by bicycle. We could peddle sweatlessly. Paved streets were an occasional thing. English was the second language. (Historically, of course, it was further down the list, but there were few signs in Tewa.) There would be many more, some much more subtle.

People said we would not find jobs, nor an affordable place to live. We found a place to live in a pueblo style four-plex on Siri Dharma the first day we were in town. We began to call ourselves the dharma bums. I found a job in about three days, working for the man who wrote the book about permaculture. Soon I was doing fancy rockwork for the rich and famous, building water features in the high desert. Lin began to build a clientele of piano students. Life was good. It seems odd now, considering the wall of indifference I have encountered at churches in Fayetteville, but we began to meet people through churches, Lin at the Unitarians, I at St. Bede's Episcopal. We had parties and we were invited to parties.

The first several months of my time in Santa Fe were interrupted by visits to Los Angeles to visit my half-uncle, who was dying of aids. (I realize that's not-pc. Please don't bother to correct me. I've done time in the trenches.} Those episodes need an entry of their own, or two.

By fall, the company I had worked for had sold, but I started working for the New Mexico Repertory Theater, and another of the differences of the city different became obvious. The Director of the Rep, a rich and brash white jewish kid from up east, was disappointed that none of the old Spanish families ever bought tickets. Weren't they interested in culture in their city? Of course, there were layers of centuries-old Spanish culture and customs of which upstart anglos would remain ignorant. Nor were the founding families interested in pop culture. I would later meet some of the old Spanish family folk through the queer community, but seldom in the arts. I would also get to know some of the Indians from the area, but that was a slow process, and also often involved the gay community.

I loved Santa Fe. Writing about it makes me want to return.  My assumption was that I would stay. I remember sitting in the Garth and Holy Faith Church on Palace Avenue and thinking that this would be where my ashes would find their resting place. But, as Zorba had asked, 'Am I not a man? And is not a man stupid?' So there would be complications, and discoveries, and difficulties in adjusting to my new freedom.

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