Sante Fe

I am in Santa Fe visiting a 90-year-old friend. I feel like it’s important to come and visit her every year because you never know when you’re going to lose her. Of course, that’s true about life in general. You never know when you’re going to lose anything. They say being resilient is a very good quality to have in life as those of us who are resilient seem better equipped to deal with what life throws at us.

I never thought I was resilient, as a matter of fact, I sort of thought that I was a wimpy whiner. I seem so scared of so many things. Of course I had this well hidden but there were those who knew about these irrational fears. I made a list of things that scared me when I was in my 40s because I was just done with it. The first thing I did was number one on my list and that was learn to shoot a gun. My teacher said I was a “born shooter” whatever that means but I loved my gun. To be honest I still do. The other night I had a young boy here with his mom and he asked me if I had a gun and I said yes of course I did and so we went upstairs and got my shotgun keys and brought it down and then his mother and I tried to remember how to put it together. It was really hysterical how complicated it seemed but we didn’t give in and let the boy do it.

Here in Santa Fe I went for a walk the other night before dinner because I had been on an airplane all day and I wanted to stretch my legs. The center of town has a lovely Square which is lit up with Christmas lights year-round and surrounded by interesting and often touristy shops. I love to walk around when all the shops are closed and look in the windows and just imagine which things I would buy if I were going to buy anything.

As I was rounding the corner of a jewelry store a white Volkswagen bug pulled up beside me and a young woman stuck her head out the window and said ” hey you !I saw you steal that!”

I have to tell you this frightened me.I thought oh my god who is this person and why is she saying this and screaming this at me? I said, “I beg your pardon?” her screaming got louder and louder and she said “I’m going to call the police right now and they’re going to arrest you because you’re a thief.”

You know, there are many of you will read the story and think how ridiculous that she was upset by it. Most guys would just laugh at her. But here I was alone on the Square in the dark next to a car full of young strong women who were clearly enraged at me and on drugs and repeating nonsense. It was deeply upsetting.

For the rest of my time in Santa Fe I discreetly asked around about increases in crime and anger and problems with tourists being harassed and unfortunately found that this happens all too often. Apparently the police drive around the Square every five minutes. I must’ve missed their minute.

I really love Santa Fe because it’s beautiful and to anyone who is at all creative you can’t help but be moved by the colors of the Adobe houses, the sky, the painted signs in blues and pinks and the presence of wonderful museums and galleries that inspire you.

From the first time I visited here however, I felt a darkness but I couldn’t get out of until I left the town. There are many people here living in extreme poverty and many of them are Indians and many of them owned this land centuries ago.I don’t blame them for being angry.

I think things like what happened to me in Santa Fe are going to start to happening all over this country. In fact, they already have. Every time I get on an airplane I am saddened to see the rudeness particularly among young men who push and shove right by you to grab the last space in the overhead bin. I remember the days where gentleman would help you put your bag in the bin and then say “after you “if your seat was by the window.

In my youth the worst thing I saw was Jimmy Mellon stealing my Halloween candy and he only took the Red Vines, Sure, I was lucky, I lived in a very safe spot. I don’t know how we’re going to turn this around. I have a feeling the anger is too deep. I was reading Elizabeth Warren’s article in Rolling Stone in the airplane on the way here and she spoke about how minimum-wage 20 years ago could actually support a family and allow them to have a house and food on the table and a cozy life. Now the average cost of food for a family of four monthly is approximately $900. The average minimum wage is $12 an hour.

I am teaching math to my fourth graders using this as an example . I am hoping that it won’t make them sad to think that they’ll never be able to make enough money to have a decent life. I’m hoping it will inspire them to look for new elected officials and new ways to behave and to work hard in their lives. I want them to learn the practical skills of survival but I also want them to maintain a hopeful attitude that they can change things in the world. We can’t let it continue on the way that it’s heading. I am on the end of my runway but these kids are just beginning.

I don’t want to be frightened in Santa Fe anymore or anywhere But I don’t know what the answer is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s