Posted by: chptr37 | 04/06/2009

Pg. 5: New Mexico to Texas


Santa Fe, New Mexico. I want to live in a stucco house again.



  • Miles Today: 360
  • Miles Total: 2234
  • From/To: Santa Fe, New Mexico to El Paso, Texas
  • Slept: Old Santa Fe Inn
  • Soundtrack: Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Three Days Grace.
  • Best Thing: Discovering that there is a town in New Mexico named Truth or Consequences.
  • Worst Thing: Forgetting to take a photo of the sign for said town.
  • Quote of the Day: “Have you been to Cowgirls? Rachel Ray raved about it.” Said by the guy at the Santa Fe tattoo place when I asked him where he recommended for lunch. Lunch was had at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place instead.


For a few years in Portland, I lived in Big Pink. Big Pink was, not surprisingly, big. And pink. Or, truly, salmon. It was also quite possibly one of a total of six or seven houses in Portland that was built out of stucco. It housed six apartments, I think. Six really tiny apartments built into the house. The apartment had so much character (which, yes, is like saying “She has a great personality.). I don’t think there was a single closet in the whole space. It did have a little breakfast nook. A “patio” that was too small to stand on. There were no doors except on the bathroom–only archways. The stove was the size of a Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven, and the dials were about as accurate. Cooking turkey was not recommended.

Despite all of that, I loved that apartment. I wrote a lot there. I liked the light and the way the stucco kept cool to my touch. The bumpy walls appealed to me, as did the arched doorways, the built-in shelves that were not the right size to hold anything, the open feel of having only curtains between spaces, the way that everything was curved or sloped or angled (some on purpose, most due to either the age or the condition of the house).

Santa Fe, too, is full of character. Vivid colors, adobe curves, old signs and new. Route 66. Cowboy boots and turquoise. Georgia O’Keefe. The low buildings in front. The mountains behind.

Walking around downtown Santa Fe this morning, I was reminded of Big Pink, and how much she taught me about character and why it mattered. Before that, many of the places I’d lived were cheap. Not just in rent, but in construction. Many were bland. Some were cute, but they had bad bones. When I lived in Big Pink, I was developing some character of my own. I was learning who I was and why that mattered. I was gathering strength in my spine, standing up beneath my desire to become a writer, a woman, a person, a friend, and all of the other roles that one takes on. I was finding my own curves, my colors, my angles and archways. Figuring out what my walls–and my doorways–looked like, and what was hidden behind each one.

I’m still torn about this place. Meaning Santa Fe. Meaning New Mexico. Meaning the desert. The truth is, she’s too hot for me. Too flat and dry and cracked. I don’t understand how to turn her dials to the right temperature, and I’m pretty sure that if I stayed much longer, she’d burn me alive.

But, man, she sure does have a great personality…

Far and fast, s.


Sunset south of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico


“Travel is more than the seeing of sights. It is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” ~Miriam Beard



  1. Though I’ve never been to New Mexico – one of these days – I have lived in the desert – for 4 weeks in a tent – long story – but even though I wouldn’t want to live there full-time, the desert has such a bare beauty that I miss it living here in the northeast.

    I love weird names of towns.

  2. I too love places to live with character. I helped a friend of mine remodel her ancient home and kept panicking about wrecking things.

    My current abode is new, but built to appear to have character, but it’s “new” character… Oh well, I’ve decided the next time I have to move that I’m finding an old church to live in with dark wood and stained glass windows….

    Thank you for virtually dragging us along sweetie


  3. Wow, Truth or Consequences is absolutely breathtaking as the sun is going down. Though after this post I now want to know more about Big Pink!

  4. Ero: That sounds like a fantastic story, actually. I’d love to hear it someday. Have you written about it?

    Annie: Ah, new character. It’s a mixed blessing, right? And that church sounds fantastic — although, as with the Virgin Jail, somehow I doubt they’d let me in 🙂

    Shawn: I’ll see if I can scrounge up a picture of Big Pink for you. She was really cute… in a sprawling, falling apart, you can never leave kind of way…

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