It turns out that Santa Fe doesn’t have nearly as many snakes as I thought. I thought the whole city was slithering with them, and if I went, I’d have to be on the alert at all times. I pictured them hiding under the toilet seat and between the seats of the rental car and in the stairwell at the hotel. I knew they were waiting for me. I almost didn’t come because I was sure of the infestation. But oddly, I’ve been here for five days and not a single slither. Thank the Lord.
I’m exceedingly proud of myself tonight, on this last day in Santa Fe. I created my own adventure. It’s a big deal because I don’t do brave things on my own. I do brave things only when Peter goes first, and he is my guide and my covering, and he somehow protects me on all sides. Otherwise, I’m content to end up at McDonalds or Starbucks again. I am addicted to the familiar and secure. And I have missed out on many a good time indeed because of that addiction.
But not tonight. Tonight, I ventured out to find the Santa Fe Plaza. I scouted the city blocks to get a feel for the place, an idea of the lay of the land. I marked my parking spot on Waze, a version of Hansel and Gretel’s bread crumbs.
I found the sprawling square of green grass with a statue and a plaque in the middle giving credence to federal soldiers. I went shopping in a store filled with turquoise jewelry and leather jackets and colorful scarves and flowing skirts. I bought myself one of those skirts, and I’m hopeful I’ll still love it when I get home. How many times I have been swept into the mood of a place, and I buy something that matches who they are and what they love, and then I get home and realize there’s no place in Denver where I will ever actually wear purple flowered balloon pants or a Spanish Mumu. Those items are shelved under the category of “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
And now I’m sitting at a rooftop café overlooking the city street. I am eating chips with coarse salt flakes sprinkled on top, a black bean salsa, and guacamole so authentic that there was a sliver of avocado peel hiding in there. I wanted to get a margarita, just out of principle, but somebody has to get this adventure girl back to her hotel.
I spread myself out like I do when I dine alone. Drink, chips, salsa, guacamole, book, pen(s). I am nothing if not spread out. In kind of every area of my life.
I got what I came for this week: to meet the writing mentor of my last many years. I’ve been studying the works of Natalie Goldberg for so many years, and she’s the one who taught me the discipline of a writing practice. I’ve bought Writing Down the Bones so many times – for aspiring writers, soul searching friends, and more than one copy for myself. It’s the manual for work like mine.
I’ve been on the wait list for a long time for her writing workshops, and finally my name came to the top. It’s been a good and powerful week, and my heart is full. I have so many things to tell you. Tonight I’m thinking about them all, making lists of quotes and people and principles and practices and things to remember.
I can’t wait to tell you about my shining moment with her. It sparkled.
And now, here with the chips and the guac, I’m reading her newest book, a memoir about her battle with cancer. She said people were surprised that she wrote a book while she had cancer, but she said, “Well, I kept brushing my teeth, too. Writing is a habit, just like all the other things I do every day. Why should cancer get to be everything?” This made sense to me on a cellular level. Yes, of course she kept writing. Because when everything is wrong, the pen can still be right.
I’ll finish my dinner with a wonder called ice cream tacos. And then I’ll load up and follow my breadcrumbs back to my car. I chose adventure tonight.
And it was a much better plan than watching reruns of Friends and getting dinner at Applebee’s.