Silver City resolution
December 24, 2008
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but less than a week ago, one came to me. I was in New Mexico at the time, and I was dancing with a group of Silver City friends. On one of side of me was a woman who had sold everything in Austin to start a new life in the Southwest with her husband. On another side was my old landlord, a former fundamentalist Christian man who, with the help of a surgery in Thailand, is now named Susan.
I want to live my life more creatively, I told myself then.
I still feel that. It just seems like there are too many options in this world not to.
But it took going to down to New Mexico, with its all its arty inconsistency and inherent scrappiness, to remind me of this.
While I was in Silver City, everything felt like art, all intentional and wild. Sure, there are galleries in one cute, little section of town, but it’s more than that. I saw bright, junky-looking mobile homes sitting next to pristine adobes, and they looked in total harmony under that hilariously blue sky. The few nights I was there, I hung out with my former bosses, a gay married couple who had moved out to Silver several years before and started a fancy food store. With their $7 chocolate bars and gourmet French butter, they’d fed a real foodie need in the middle of the desert. Just by caring so much, they’d stepped the whole town up a notch. They even accepted food stamps. How sweet is that?
The last day I was there, I drove about 30 miles out of town to see my friend and her new little family who live totally off-the-grid. As I visited the mom, dad and baby, I sat in their one-room straw bail house and their outdoor kitchen. About a quarter mile away was their wigwam, which the guy had built and where the kid had been born. I was enthralled by how out of the norm everything was and told the dad so. Andrew just turned to me and lamented about he couldn’t live in his wigwam anymore because of the cold. Even though his little straw bail is tiny, without electricity, it still feels way too conventional for him, he explained. In his eyes, he is simply too far out of society to inhabit a place with manufactured glass and a metal roof.
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He doesn’t want to be fenced in.
As I drove back to Colorado, I remembered that neither do I.
It’s not about where I live. I know that. It’s about how I live. The world is so full of opportunities and different ways to be a person that I can hardly stand it. This year, I don’t know exactly what I’m resolving to do, but I do know I have to step outside the culture in some way. I might not live in a wigwam, but maybe I’ll paint more and travel. Maybe I’ll write more beyond this column or put my energy into ceramics. Basically, I want to take the risk to be myself, whatever that means.
That’s the best 2009 I can imagine for myself. Whatever sounds wonderful to you, I truly wish for that too.