Friday, June 12, 2015


My last morning in Santa Fe, I woke up wondering.  I left from Albuquerque at 3:15.  The airport was an hour away.  I had to be out of the motel that I'd called home for the past ten days by eleven.  How would I manage my time. 

Inevitably as I always do--without reason and poorly.  I muddled about the room packing in wee bits trying to remember where everything was.  I needed a bag for the toiletries which would explode at altitude.  I took the bag out of the small garbage can in the bathroom.  Oops--don't forget the speeding ticket in the glove box.  Do I have all the exposed film?  I hadn't worn many clothes this trip, and I decided that it would be apropos to wear the same linen shirt I had worn on the way out, the same one I had worn every day since I had left.  Soon everything was packed but the piece of fleece I had brought with me.  I couldn't find it.  I looked in the car, in the trunk, in the closet, under the beds--twice.  It was gone.  I tried remembering the last time I had worn it.  It had been the night of the cookout at the workshop, Thursday night.  Maybe I had worn it to the workshop on Friday and had taken it off and forgotten it?  It was either that or the maids had taken it, and I doubted that very much.  Nope.  I'm sure I left it at the workshop.  Well, not sure. . . but where else?  The weather had warmed since then and I had not needed fleece since.  Well. . . shit. 

I had time to go into town for breakfast.  It would be the first breakfast I had eaten since Albuquerque at the mental institute.  I would go to a restaurant that C.C. recommended two years ago.  Afterwards, there would be time to wander around and take some last pictures with the Leica.  Walking to the car, a young, hip fellow happily said good morning. 

"Hello," I replied.

He looked at me a moment and then asked, "Are you a writer?" 

That was a hell of a question, I thought, a hell of an opening line.  "Why would you ask me that?" I said. 

"I don't know.  You look like a writer." 

Funny that.  "Nope," I said.  "I'm a photographer," holding up the Leica. 

"Oh, cool," he said. 

Breakfast at the restaurant was not what I remembered.  Actually, I was remembering a different restaurant altogether, one in Durango that had a long, old counter.  I sat down and ordered the huevos rancheros and an orange juice. 

"Which sauce you like, honey, the red or the green."  Like much of New Mexico, the waitress looked like an old hippy, skin gone, hair still long, smiling. 

"I'll take the green unless you are known for your red," I answered. 

"No, the green is good."

A sloppy mess of beans and sauce came out on a platter.  Somewhere buried below was an egg and a tortilla, I think.  It was hard to tell.  Fucking C.C., I thought.  As I ate, I was sure I would have hillbilly belly for the rest of the day--you know, that shit you get from eating hillbilly fare. 

When I had finished, I walked outside and prepared my camera.  Early morning Santa Fe was dead.  The shops were just opening.  I came upon a character sitting on a bench. He looked like a cross between and old cowhand and a mystic with his long beard and chaps.  He watched me with a wary eye as I approached.  I pointed to my camera and smiled.  It seemed to me that he gave me an imperceptible nod.  I stood in front of him, squatted down eye level with him, and shot one, then another picture.  His faced never changed from the existential blankness that seemed to have taken over his visage a long time ago.  But I could see his mind was working, though god knows what bucket of snakes my be slithering around in there just then.  I waved and left him to it.  That is what it is like taking photographs of strangers, though.  You can't get a picture without doing something to them, without bringing them into some consciousness or awareness.  I began to wonder how I felt about that as I walked around the barren plaza. 

But I didn't want to think, and there was nothing here to see, so I decided to drive back to the hotel and load up the car. 

I got to the airport hours early, but what else was there to do?  I had a book to read and now time to do it.  Two flights.  Two drinks.  When I deplaned, I was back in the swampland.  A pretty girl was waiting to give me a ride home.

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