I’m sitting in the Aztec Restaurant, the same little restaurant I used to write in when I first moved to New Mexico. Within its simple atmosphere I would come as often as I could afford to splurge on eating out (at times it was only a soft drink or tea and they were gracious enough to never complain about how long I sat) and dream the dream of all writers.
There’s an interesting sense of déjà vu as I work at one of the same red vinyl tables, on my laptop now instead of in a notebook. Since I’ve come to accept that change is my only constant, it seems an appropriate time to look back on the difference between now and then, and maybe even to look at the similarities.
I’ve published two books, experienced a small touch of success with the writing I took up again on moving out west. Though I still dream the dream, I also know the reality now and it whets my appetite for more. I’ve studied and graduated, created a career and left it behind and learned that life can be both kind and brutal and you can love it in both conditions. I’ve watched my children grow and spread their own wings and they have each given me the greatest gift possible – the title of Grandma. And I’ve given Mother Earth back the mortal bodies of both my mother and my father, trusting her to send their spirits on their new path while I washed my grief clean with tears.
The time I was able to spend with them since I lived so much closer allowed their passing to leave me with memories rather than regrets. Regret is an emotion that is only beneficial for a few short seconds. After that it wears on the soul to no good end so I try to send it on its way as soon as possible when it visits. But I do not in my heart regret moving west; I only grieve the pain that sent me here.
My lack of regret has been a gift of this place I now call home and I try to remember to thank the local spirits for giving it to me. Years ago the phrase “go west, young man” sent many a gentleman to these lands to look for gold, fame or fortune. If I used that phrase to someone today it would be to tell them this is the mother lode for creativity. From a landscape that can inspire everyone from poets to horror filmmakers to a multi-ethnic culture that celebrates the diversity of each tribe that imprinted their ways and their stories on the fabric of this society, New Mexico is a loaded mine of the purest form of treasure for those looking to release their creativity into the world. And as I sit in this familiar place, I start again to dream, to look at the world in that old familiar way and wonder what the coming years will allow to bloom in my life. I can feel the excitement starting just thinking about it.