A few weeks ago my husband Fred and I had the opportunity to stay at a friend's elegant condominium in Santa Fe for ten full days: a place quiet and removed from the daily hubbub in Los Angeles, from the churning responsibilities of my beloved but demanding university that beats in the City's bustling heart.
What a treat we had in store for us!
And so I thought I would contact my brother, founding father of chucksville.com and let him know that we could spend a day together in Albuquerque as I wended my way north. And, I suggested: Let's go to Garcia's — for old time's sake. Much was my surprise when he turned me down flat and said: "Let's not repeat the past. Let’s make new memories together."
And, so began another chapter in our long lives together: I, the oldest sister in a clan of five; he the baby. Clearly, I was not in charge. He was to be the boss in this adventure.
When we arrived at the Sunport Chucky picked us up and we traveled first to his adorable house near Old Town, and instead of Garcias we went definitively up-scale to a venerable French restaurant in Old Town itself. We had a yummy meal (not a chile in sight) of patés and poulet, boeuf and moules, coffees and crème brulée. Stoked up, we went on the Breaking Bad tour — having all gorged on that addictive TV show during the last months — latecomers, but avid fans all of us.
A great joy for me was going to Jennifer Hix's studio. I knew Jennifer was a good abstract artist, but I hadn't seen her work in years and it has taken a turn for the sublime.
Using only her hands, this artist paints dreamy patches of color that for me recall a hazy memory of Paul Klee, a little 1912 Kandinsky, but mostly a lot of a tall gangly Albuquerque artist pursuing her vision in one of the purest spaces of commitment I have ever seen. Nothing commodified or monetized here: Sheer beauty.
Fred and I went up to Santa Fe that night and I began to move toward finishing my book. It was heaven: morning through late afternoon at the computer. Then, about 3 p.m. we were off to catch the museums before they closed, to walk around the plaza to sample the food this charming and unique city had to offer.
Chucky came up to visit us on the last day of our
visit and, yes, we did make new memories, even if we also re-visited a few of the old — recalling the days I would visit him in Santa Fe, at St. John's College. Once I spent one memorable week, lecturing in Art History, being feted by the professors there, climbing Monte Sol and generally having the time of my life.
This time, I took Chucky to the Museums on the Hill and Chuck really loved the International Folk Art Museum — as did Fred and I. That kite exhibition is to die for — kind of a perfect exhibition. We also went to the Colonial Museum and showed Chucky that old house that they have outside that was, I think brought over or inspired by one in Michoacán, Mexico.
Chucky then explained that all the adobe architecture in town was not necessarily "born" that way. Rather, that a certain architect, I suppose during the time of all the architectural revivals in the twenties, brought the pueblo architecture into the capital, gave the place a kind of aesthetic uniformity, and created the destination that we all love to arrive at. That is, the Pueblo of our dreams: Downtown Santa Fe.
We didn't like Canyon Road too much: all monetized and commodified — kitsch and over refinement to the hilt! But, much as we were turned off by the slick galleries aimed at gullible tourists, we enjoyed the Contemporary Art Museum (near the Military Museum). There they had a show based on the NY Times that was very challenging, provocative, absurd and sometimes superb.
Chucky, Fred and I finished our visit with a terrific dinner of (lots of) tapas at La Boca, drank wine and beer together, toasted our happiness in being together, and generally delighted in each others' company — 30 years after my little brother had first shared Santa Fe with me.
Thanks, Chuck, for the (new) memories.
Chucky left me/us and we were refreshed in our deep bond/ renewed by this old city.
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