Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Santa Fe

Anyone who’s ever lived in Santa Fe, N.M., myself included, wishes the powers-that-be had locked the doors after his or her arrival and encased the town in amber, preserving it forever exactly the way it was the day he or she got here.

When Jen and I left here 20! years ago, we already thought it had been ruined compared to the charming place we discovered in the early 1980’s. But if you talked to anyone who got here before us, they’d tell you it already was a pale shadow of the place it had been 10, 20, or 50 years before.

Santa Fe is a magically beautiful spot, but ever since white people started coming here and building stuff, the place has undergone changes that have transformed the natural into the human, making those who were drawn here for something ineluctable lament its loss.

To me, right now, the biggest difference from when we lived here is the size of the cars—SUVs have altered the experience of Santa Fe in a new way: giant vehicles on tiny streets make me feel like I’m among dinosaurs moving slowly through canyons, but I should talk; we have a rented Toyota Highlander, a brontosaurus in its own right.

I have my bike here, though, and I’m amazed that I didn’t ride at all when I was a resident. Santa Fe is an ideal town for biking—you can cross the entire downtown in ten minutes, easy. Places I thought I had to drive to back in the day, I can pedal to in moments. Whenever Jen and Mimi drive and I ride, I get there first.

And then there’s the mall-ization of the place. Real quirkiness has been replaced, by and large, by faux quirkiness. So, instead of a funky independent coffee shop, you’ve got a funky Starbucks.

I guess this is the future, but I still prefer the past—the past exactly as it was when I lived here.


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