One Day in Santa Fe

Ten or fifteen years ago it was all the rage to hold meetings in Santa Fe. I suppose then you could still get reasonable room rates at hotels if you could assure that a block of rooms would be occupied in the "off season." I attended some of these meetings as a spouse. The first few meetings I really enjoyed myself, hiking in the surrounding area and visiting the galleries in the city. However, something happened to me one day on the streets of Santa Fe that forever changed my view of the city. I will never again feel comfortable in Santa Fe.

We stayed at La Posada with the rest of the group. After breakfast that day I went out to gallery surf. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. After an hour or so, I turned down a side street. In a short distance I came upon an Indian man sitting on the curb, leaning against a street sign. As I approached, he saw me and struggled to pull himself upright. He asked me what time it was. I told him that it was about 11. He paused and looked a bit puzzled. He then asked whether it was morning or night. Stunned, I replied it was morning. He nodded and staggered off.

I was totally devastated. I made my way back to the room, though I could hardly see where I was going. I pulled all the shades and darkened the room. There could be no sun for me either. When Steve came to meet me for lunch, he found me curled up on the couch, staring blindly ahead with tears in my eyes.

So Santa Fe is no longer a place where I can visit comfortably. I stay in Albuquerque or north of Santa Fe. Occasionally I stop for a visit to a special show at the Institute of American Indian Art, but I can no longer see the city as a special place where artists with a wide range of styles can find support to explore their creative impulses. Instead I can only see the drive for the dollars of the tourists and "collectors" who are drawn here by a worldwide advertising campaign for "the city different."

See also Autobiography by Joy Harjo
© 1994 Karen M. Strom

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