Tag Archives: small towns

welcome

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Alpine: July I’m on the wrong side of the tracks, where the hotel and saloons were when Big Bend’s cattle were herded to railroad tracks where trains took them north. The hotel has gone to ruin, two walls left. The saloons have moved across the tracks to the gringo side of town and are called bars. Here houses are weatherbeaten. Blocks have empty spaces where mesquite and desert petunias grow and sheds and barns fall in. We face a hill. Sounds travel. The train. Music.

It’s late twilight. I hear singing. I follow the sound. Valensuela Reunion 2014 a handmade sign taped to metal carport says, and beyond is the band. Mariachi, the accordion, the guitar, the fiddle, and the nasal, heartfelt singing. Someone is grilling. A woman sits in one of a row of empty folding chairs listening. The man grilling sees me, waves me forward. No. The woman turns and waves for me to come in, also.

IMG_1006Why not? I think. I go in and sit down beside Tina, who explains the band is practicing for the party tomorrow night. You need to come, she tells me. The man grilling shakes my hand and tells me his name is Jaime. Come to our party tomorrow, he says. I sit in the long summer twilight listening to Mexican love songs, their wistfulness rising to the hill. It’s neither lonely nor strange to be sitting in this back yard with people I don’t know. It’s Alpine.

taos even song

I walk several blocks and cross the main road of Taos to go to the grocery store. From the parking lot, I can see the mountains rising up toward sky and a sunset. The sight of them makes me feel safe, in the presence of something large. How great that a grocery store has such a view, I think. On the way back, I meet one of my fellow artists here. We walk down our dirt road, and she stays to have a glass of wine. We sit on my little front porch. The evening is cool, though the day has been hot. We talk about Taos, the characters we’ve met, the friends we’re making, yoga, the art scene in LA and Santa Fe, the economy here, the drugs, the intricate culture of Hispanic, Anglo, and Native. We talk about God. Is there one? We drink wine and eat cheese and crackers, and the evening begins to darken around us. The hummingbirds who have commandeered the feeder buzz us every once in awhile. We hear the sounds of neighbors talking, pulling garbage cans to the curb because sound travels so far here. Night is upon us, and we part, and I walk into my casita feeling rich. I don’t sit on the porch and talk with neighbors in Houston. It’s too hot. We’re all too busy or have to catch the news. I don’t have news here, unless I summon it up on the radio or internet.

Have you ever lived some place slow and easy? That’s how it is here. My other life is on a shelf right now. I know this won’t last, that I’m in a bubble the artist’s residency has created for me. I’ll be picking my other life up soon, but  it feels so good to be soothed by a slower pace and caressed by the sweet ending of a day.