Monday, April 05, 2010

Lucky

All these crazy dreams. Dorothy Allison gives me a phone cord to wrap around my ankle for good luck, she says: I'm going to tie mine right now, and she bends over in the sun. I'm worried it will hurt my ankle, I say -- I'm going to wait until later so I can make it into some form of braid, those bracelets we made at camp. Laurie Sirois is in the other room on the computer, she says you're moving to Santa Fe -- oh, no -- that is the end!

But the end of what? I don't ask that question because now I'm way out at the end of town, oh this is where people live, an apartment building. I'm trying to get from one section to the other without security noticing, a university, and that guy I'm here to meet, from the house where we brushed against one another and I looked up into desire, looked again, comfort, oh he's hot, and then he rides up behind me in a wheelchair, moving past me and I'm trying to catch up.

A nighttime walk through Santa Fe is definitely not like a nighttime walk through San Francisco. But you already knew that. I'm surprised at how dark it is, puts me on edge -- do people get mugged here? It turns out that my route goes through various governmental agencies and the lawyers and dentists who serve them, not very interesting except for the parks with benches, open, but there's no one around. Even the post office is open, the exterior part, where you can go to check your mailbox or even buy postage from a machine -- I like that part, but I'm not sure there's much else in town that's open.

Earlier, I'm walking to the Plaza, the center of Santa Fe -- everyone is gaping at me like tourists; they are tourists. Maybe I am too, but there's no connection. I'm curious about the jewelry in the stores, but I don't really want to go inside. I sit in the Plaza, listening to someone playing guitar -- he doesn't have a case or anything for donations, I guess he's just playing. I'm exhausted; I should walk back, but then I see the cathedral, so I walk that way. The statue in front is a woman of color -- at first that seems refreshing, but then I read the inscription; apparently she was the first Native American saint -- here, Catholicism will absorb anything it can get its hands on. But in the park next door, there are two teenage girls leaning up against a fence -- I look closer: yes, two girls.

I keep walking, because up ahead it looks pretty and there's a building that looks like apartments, I'm curious about apartments -- it's a hospital. Across the street, a group of queens are drinking -- they say hello. What are you up to, I say? One of them runs the gallery, a place for contemporary Native American art -- I go inside and look around. I've only been to two galleries so far, but one thing that's interesting is how varied they both have been -- especially this one, all different styles and forms of art. The queens invite me for cocktails, but I need food -- it's a restaurant, they say. Do they have vegan food? If not, they'll make you something.

This would never happen in San Francisco -- the invitation. Or, if it did happen, I wouldn't go. I'd be too worried about smoke or allergies or hypoglycemia; I'm not even carrying a bag, because I wanted to walk around, so I don't have any food with me. But I want to find out as much as I can about living here. Alvin says you need to bring a boyfriend, or get used to not having one. It sounds like a lot of people move here with boyfriends, and then their boyfriends move away. Aren’t there a lot of fags here, I say -- Alvin says yes, but it's a small town, everyone's done everyone.

It's not like I have a boyfriend in San Francisco, or a sex life that's worth anything -- there's a porn shop here too, not such a short walk but still. This town is full of invitations -- tomorrow I'm going to a Passover seder, I haven't been to a seder in 20 years. I probably wouldn't go to a seder in San Francisco, or at least I haven't yet. But again I’m curious -- how do people live here? How do they socialize? How would I meet people? Would I be lonely? Lonelier than I already feel?

Back to Dorothy Allison's gift: when I first moved to San Francisco, I wore phone cords wrapped around my arms as bracelets, the silver ones with the plug-in part cut off, like the one she offers me. Santa Fe is smaller than I expected -- right in the center of town, there are tiny houses. There’s one five-story adobe building right near here, I walk over to see if it's apartments -- maybe I could live there, a view. But it's the El Dorado, the fanciest hotel in town, huge gorgeous doors.

I've only just started to explore -- people are welcoming here, but how long does that last? People are scattered far, moving further and further south for affordable housing, to rent or to own -- would I be able to get around? In the moment where I'm walking with the queens to the restaurant, I think oh, this is the communal flamboyance I miss: queens walking down the street, together. Even if, or maybe because, we might not have that much in common. But we might. Jessica mentioned that Santa Fe feels very segregated, racially especially, but here with this group of queens it doesn't feel that way at all. I might have just gotten lucky.

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