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It's Not You

Oh, New Mexico, I love you. You are the complete package. 

I love your deserts and canyons and forests.  

I love the multicolored cliffs that take your breath away when they suddenly rise up around a turn in the highway. 

I love your scenic drives where roadrunners and coyotes cross my path.

I love the adobe buildings and how they blend into the landscape. 

I love your history, pueblos, forts, monuments, ruins, and the land the belongs to the Native Americans.

I love that everything has a Spanish name and that people here will speak to me in Spanish.

I love that you are your own culture. You are nothing like your neighbors, Arizona, Texas, or Colorado. 

I love the sage brush dotting the land with huge snow-dusted mountains rising up behind them.

I love the ranches and tales of bold women in 1800s who came to live on them.

I love your zero visibility windstorms and the dust everywhere.

Most of all, I love your tumbleweed. Piles and piles and piles of it against concrete barriers lining the highway. I have always loved tumbleweed from the first time I saw it in person, back in 2009 (retro pic for proof). 

New Mexico, I may love you just a teensy bit more than I love Utah.


Santa Fe, we aren't working out. 

It's not you, it's me.

I suppose we were doomed from the start. I'm in love with another metro area and even as I was driving to you, I wished I was driving there instead.

When I arrived, I was on a bizarre antibiotic to combat some equally bizarre bacteria I picked up in Vietnam and I felt awful. It weakened my tendons and made it impossible to work out when I got here. Working out is important me and being static makes me angry.

The first two weeks I was here, it was so, so, so cold. Yes, I know it was unusually cold around the whole country and it's not your fault, but I hate winter so much. Every morning I woke up here was in the teens. All I could think about was that at this time last year I was in summertime in Argentina. The seasonal depression hit me hard and all I wanted to do was stay inside. And even though I had a week's reprieve, the daily snow and overcast sky came back the fourth week.

The deep country-wide freeze was made worse by your 6,700 foot elevation, which I wasn't thinking about when I booked this stay for January. You are the highest capital city in the United States.

And speaking of altitude, I'm over it. Yes, high and dry climates are great because there are no insects bothering you when you camp in the summer. But up here, my hair is flat and staticky, my skin is dry and flaky and dull, my heart hurts when I run, and even though I drink up to three liters of water a day, it's still not enough. I'm always dehydrated, my lips always peeling. In humidity, which I don't mind at all, my skin glows and my hair is full of life. I can run for 35 miles and feel great at the end of it.

Yes, Santa Fe, you are artsy, as I already knew. But I didn't realize you really are only visual arts. I haven't found any good writers' community here. Not really any public book clubs either besides one in Albuquerque an hour away. I do love crazy art experiences like Meow Wolf and I've enjoyed the theater here, but my kind of people don't live here.

And well, Santa Fe, maybe it's not just me. Maybe it's a little bit you too.

This pains me to say because I have met some very, very, very nice individuals here, but if someone were to ask me if Santa Fe is a "nice" city, I'd have to say no. On the whole, you aren't. The attitudes of workers in coffee shops and trendy restaurants are more of the "why are you here you are bothering me" type rather than the "this is a business I'd like to see succeed and I'm thrilled you're here dear customer" type. There are "private property" and "no trespassing" signs everywhere, even where they can't possibly be necessary. People don't say hi on the trails in town.   

Finally, three years on from the start of the pandemic, you still have businesses requiring masks and even some (hair salons) asking for proof of vaccination. I'm in favor of people running their private businesses however they want, but when a city is filled with these kind of people, it isn't my city. I  didn't realize that Santa Fe was going to be more Boulder than Boulder. Just with more old people and fewer athletes.

I still love you, New Mexico, and I will come back to visit, but Santa Fe, I'm breaking up with you.