relationships : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

And Then There Was the Time…

I miss my best friend today. Autumnal Equinox makes me think of harvesting hay and Dickerson’s dances.


That was a text message I sent to my best friend yesterday afternoon. I was at work and found myself with a few moments of pause. What I felt in that silence was an aching sense of melancholy.

The angle of light has been changing for a while and yesterday the world looked a little different bathed in early Autumn sun.

A beautiful sunny yet hazy day as I found myself at a high elevation gazing across the amazing view, Oakland to my left, Golden Gate center, Albany to my right.

It’s hardly original to feel melancholy in the Fall. I will follow the old poetic trope and go there anyway.

Since I know I have a “thing” about Autumn, I started looking back in the archives of my blog and found something that perfectly captures how I feel today. I’m nothing if not consistent.

Autumn is, after all, my favorite season in Oh Fair New Mexico.

So here’s a repost to get me through the day. The words still ring true, even as time goes by.

___________________


Get outta the wayback machine!

Originally posted April 15, 2009


It was Fall, had to be. Slight crispness to the evening air. Anticipation thick as the fog of Aqua Net in the sorority house where I lived.

It was 1989, probably. Or somewhere close to that. The campus of New Mexico State University. I was a sophomore, maybe a junior, I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that I was getting ready to go to a dance at Corbett Center on the NMSU campus.

The woman who would become my best friend for what is now over twenty years was the driving force that night, and many just like it. Her parents had met at a Corbett Center dance, so she was especially incentivized to go scoot a boot and see what’s doing. Family history.

I nervously pulled on my too shiny, too new, gray goatskin round toe ropers and jeans that didn’t really go with the boots, but were at least long enough to be acceptable. “You should buy some Rockies,” I was told, and they were right. I would, later, in quantity. But then I had neither the money nor the courage. I wasn’t sure what I was going to get into, I just knew I was going to be there come hell or high water.

It wasn’t my first Corbett dance. It wouldn’t be my last. This story isn’t about one actual night, more an amalgam of a lot of great nights.

The gaggle of high-haired women walked out the back door of our home, a sorority house containing twenty-eight women of different backgrounds, and one understanding house mom. What bound us together was our choice of educational institution. A land grant institution. To the uninformed, that means an agricultural college.

It was a short shuffle over to Corbett, up the stairs to the third floor where they had the ballrooms. Pay the entrance fee. Five dollars I think? Maybe less back then. Get a stamp on your hand. Look around, see who is there already. Talk about who you hope shows up.

Hear the opening strains of music. Usually The Delk Band. A group of musicians, brothers, and their dad on fiddle. I went to school with most of the boys. I remember I thought one of the Delks was cute. I remember one of the Delks was the drummer and back then had a tendency to speed up the tempo as a song wore on. Hard to dance to a wildly varying tempo. But we did it. (note of update: Saw the band not that long ago and that is no longer a problem.)

They were our people, and we embraced them. And we danced. Oh did we dance.

The two-step. Not the Texas double up kind, no. The slow kind, keeping time to the music.

And a waltz. My favorite, how I love to waltz. The rhythm of a song set to the beat of a waltz still paces my heart a little differently.

The polka. If done right with the right boy (he had to be tall because I’m tall and otherwise we’d just bump knees) you felt like you were flying, feet hardly touching the ground.

Then of course the Cotton-Eyed Joe (stepped in what?) and the Schottische, played back to back, often enough. Linking six or eight of us, arm in arm, facing forward, laughing our fool heads off.

The ladies, my friends and I, would stand on the sidelines and take a look at the scene. My best friend would always get asked to dance first. She’s beautiful and a great dancer. Who could blame the boys for flocking to her blue-eyed, dark haired gorgeousness? Not me, certainly.

As I got better at dancing, I got asked often enough, too. The boys liked the girls who could dance, who liked to dance, who didn’t turn up their nose at dirty fingernails and cow sh*t on their boots.

There is something special about dancing with a boy who knows how to dance, a strong lead, who looks you in the eyes. The boys who had the right fold in their hat and smelled faintly of Copenhagen and beer and Polo cologne.

I got to know those folks. All of them, the boys, the girls, the dancers, the musicians, the laughers, the people who liked to swing each other around the dance floor.

They became my family. We traveled in packs, dancing until we were sweaty, then heading outside into the cool air to take a breath, drink a beer, laugh a lot and occasionally find someone to spend a little time with.

Well not me, not then. I was still too awkward and mixed up to attract much in the way of boys at that point. I was more “one of the guys” than one of the girls the guys would chase. Don’t feel bad for me though, I eventually figured it out. (cover your eyes, mom)

Over time, we all aged a little, got to be over 21 and started to migrate from dancing at Corbett center to dancing at the local country bar. It was fun but seemed a little more complicated. Add more than a couple beers to the night and weird things happen.

But still we danced. By that time, I’d moved off campus and lived with my friend from TorC. She was crazy and fun and taught me a lot (cover your eyes, mom), and she loved to dance as much as I did. She coined the phrase “big bar hair” and gave me an education on how to get it, and keep it, despite dancing so hard sweat ran down your face.

Then we all aged a bit more, and we graduated and found respectable jobs. My best friend, her husband (a fine dancer, I must say) and I are all actually employed in the same area that’s listed on our diplomas. One might scoff at country folks, but all three of us hold a Master’s degree in our chosen fields.

Now, on the verge of turning forty well past forty, I find I still miss those days, mightily. I wished I’d enjoyed them more at the time. The stress of school and classes and “what do I want to be when I grow up” cast a pall on my days.

My own fault. A worrier by nature, a tendency that I fight tooth and nail every single day I take a breath.

When I’m having a bad day, when I doubt myself, when I realize I don’t fit in at my new place of employment, when I don’t feel heard or understood or very well liked, I can always go back to those days in my mind and smile.

I can’t get together with my best friend and her husband and NOT talk about those days. Magical. I’m blessed to have been able to have them. Once upon a time, I knew where I belonged.





Photo of The Delk Band in action





Image from The Delk Band website and found here.




It’s Tough For A Nina

In the movie Tombstone, there is this scene where the bad guy Johnny Ringo and the bad but good guy Doc Holliday square off. It begins the escalation of their unpleasant association.

Here’s a video clip.

The two are in a bar with their various friends and their mutual hatred begins with a war of the words.

Doc fires the first salvo by saying to his sidekick, “Look, darling, Johnny Ringo. The deadliest pistoleer since Wild Bill, they say. What do you think? Should I hate him?”

This of course isn’t well received. From there Doc Holliday slides smoothly into Latin and Johnny Ringo follows suit without skipping a beat. This exchange goes on for a bit.

As the war of the words is broken up, Doc’s eyes get a little steely and he says, “That’s Latin, darling. Evidently Mr. Ringo’s an educated man. Now I really hate him.”

Bear with me here as I’m about to abruptly change course. I wanted to lay this down as useful context. Let it play in the background of your mind.

As I have noted I am the proud godmother (called Nina in the Hispanic tradition) to my best friend’s two daughters. They are my light and my life and I love them enormously. I may not have kids of my own, but these girls are my kids.

However, Nina Karen is struggling a bit as these beautiful girls grow up. The oldest will be fifteen this year and the youngest will be thirteen.

Yeah. Teen. It’s a whole thing I can’t get into, and can’t quite handle.

So my girls go about their lives back home in New Mexico and I follow them on Instagram so I can keep up with what is going on.

Several months ago, the younger of the two girls changed her Instagram profile to note that she was “taken” and put hearts around a boy’s name.

Nina Karen lost her mind. Really, I was not ready to handle this. I got in touch with my best friend and grilled her. Did she know? Did she mind? Should I be worried? Can she come get me at the airport because I am flying out to New Mexico right this instant?

She assured me that it was fine. That she knew and was keeping an eye. My best friend is a wonderful mother so of course I had no reason to worry. But still, I did.

And I died a little inside when my girl would post photos of the boy and changed her username to reflect that she belonged to him by using his name and calling herself “hisname’s girl” — Ugh. That one really got me.

I went on a long rant about how this burgeoning woman needs to learn to identify herself by her own name and stand on her own reputation and not identify herself simply by her association with a man.

As I stomped and ranted, The Good Man arched an eyebrow at me and said, “She’s thirteen. Give it time. This will end.”

And I stomped harder and said, “You don’t understand! My girl! She’s so loyal and true. What if she ends up marrying this guy?”

He arched his eyebrow harder and said, “She’s thirteen.”

So I did what any good Nina would do, I mildly stalked the kid by perusing his public Instagram feed. Photos of his family. Photos of his pets. Seems the kid likes to play sports.

I had a hard time deciding if I should hate him on principle, or learn to at least tolerate him because he was important to my beautiful, intelligent and amazing goddaughter.

After spending some time with my best friend and her girls over Spring Break, and getting some of my thoughts out, I realized that my girl has got to find her own way in this life, as much as this may pain me.

She really is a good person and growing up fast. Her parents have instilled good values and decent common sense and now is the time for her to put that to good use.

I still snarled when she would post a photo of this guy as her “Man Crush Monday,” but kept all of my unkind comments tucked away inside. I had to just let this thing ride. Even if it meant heading in directions I didn’t like.

I had reconciled myself to it. It was a burr in my saddle but not bad enough to stop the ride. Fine.

Until just this past week.

When I found out that this young man broke up with my girl.

Via text message.

Now I really hate him.





Okay, okay, fine. The Good Man was right. And I don’t really hate the young man. He’s doing what you do when you are thirteen and figuring it all out. He’ll learn and my girl will learn and I will learn and maybe we’ll all be better for it.

My heart breaks for my goddaughter because her heart breaks. I guess that’s just how the game of life is played.

I can’t spare her, I can only be there to catch her when she falls.





Image found here.




A View From The Inside

What follows is a real, true-to-life account of an interaction between The Good Man and I. This occurred last Friday while we were in the car driving northbound on highway 280. We were on our way to a celebration dinner with family.

I was feeling rather glum, not unusual at the holidays, and we had been listening to whatever holiday music was playing on the radio.

The station had chosen that hour to do all down beat music. This made me sigh with more glum-ness.

“Here,” said The Good Man, “I have an idea.” He dug around in the cubby of his car and produced a mix CD and popped it into the player. “If disco doesn’t cheer you up, I don’t know what will.”

And indeed, the up tempo disco beat was helping my mood.

Then the song “Boogie Nights” came on.

Because he is The Good Man, and as my spouse I can (and do) share almost everything with him, I decided it was ok to ask a question that has plagued me since I was just a young child. You see, I am old enough to remember when the song “Boogie Nights” was fresh and new and played all over the radio.

I loved the song even then and used to roller skate and shake my seven year old booty to the musings of the band Heatwave.

And so came my question.

“You know, I’ve always wondered what, exactly, is a Boogie Get Down?”

“Excuse me?” The Good Man responded.

“You know, the chorus, “dance with the Boogie Get Down cuz Boogie Nights are always the best in town”? What is the Boogie Get Down? Is that a dance? Is that a place? Is that a state of mind?”

The Good Man is much more worldly than me and I figured if anyone knew, he would.

This is when The Good Man gave me a head tilted “hmm?” look, much like a confused dog.

I continued, “Look, ever since I was a kid this has bugged me. Do you know what a Boogie Get Down is?”

He replied, “It’s an imperative, not a proper noun.”

“What?”

“It’s an imperative. Dance with the boogie! Then go ahead and get down. It’s not a proper noun.”

Now I gave him the dog tilt head.

“There is a pause in there that I don’t think you are taking into account,” he said, trying again.

“Wait, you mean there is a comma in there? Dance with the Boogie comma get down?”

“Yes. Exactly.”

“But the way they phrase it you don’t hear it. Since Boogie Get Down comes after a the, it would imply a noun. I just assumed the whole thing was a noun because they don’t give you a pause which would indicate a comma exists in the lyrics. You can see my confusion.”

“They are musicians and are playing with phrasing and time signatures. Like jazz. You know.”

“Hmph. I see.”

We were both quiet for a while as the rain spattered the windshield and the song continued on.

I noticed my husband had a slight smile on his face. I turned to him and said, “I’ve ruined the song for you now, haven’t I?”

“Pretty much.”

Might I close the scene by saying this is what it’s like to live with me every day. The Good Man should receiving his Living Saint designation anytime now.







Image by Zerpx2k and found on Deviant Art and used here under the terms of a Creative Commons attribution license.




Tweets From My Beloved

Yesterday on my lunchtime walk with Worm Girl she had a story she was so excited to tell me.

She lives in the same house where she grew up and when both her folks passed, she inherited it. Over the past year she has been renovating the place and updating the furniture. She’s making it her own home.

Part of that process has been uncomfortable for her. She’s been pulling everything down from overhead storage in the garage, including boxes that haven’t been opened for decades. It’s been a sad but fulfilling process to go through things that belonged to her folks along with family memories.

Over the weekend, she found a box that she thought had been long missing. It contained much of their family’s photo collection, her parents wedding photos, and a big stack of letters.

Her parents were married quite young. Her mom had moved to the US from Australia and was something like 18. Her dad was a couple years older and was in the military. After they married, he was deployed overseas and so for the first years of their marriage, their relationship existed solely via written letters back and forth.

She said, “They were so cute!” as her dad fretted about her mom learning to drive a car and the fact that “That ol’ Plymouth” kept having to be taken into the shop.

He told her the events of his days in details, almost boring minutiae, then would end with a shy proclamation of love.

At one point he was rather bold. It seems that the young wife was quite thin, too thin, and was trying to put on some weight. “I hope you’ve gained a little weight. I want you to be hale and healthy for my return, if you know what I mean.”

This part made me laugh right out loud. I said “You dad was a bold one, wasn’t he!” and she laughed too.

Then I told her I have some of my parents’ letters too. It was a lot along the same lines. Several pages of “what I did today” and wrapping up with a few love words. They are fun to read.

Which got me thinking about how great the art of letter writing used to be. It was such a valid and important means of communication and staying in touch. But it also provided a written history of the lives of these people. Something tangible to hang onto which helps the reader feel a little closer to to the past. I have letters from my Great Grandfather to my Grandfather. I never met my Great Grandfather but I sure know a lot about him by reading his stern words.

I also have one of the most beautifully written love letters I’ve ever seen that was written by my paternal Grandfather to my Grandmother. In his words I know he truly, deeply loved her.

Not that I have any kids who will pull my mementos out of storage one day, but I got to thinking about the early days of my own beautiful romance and marriage. We have a few notes and cards that are very dear to me, but I have to be honest, in those first blushing days of our relationship, we exchanged most of our correspondence over email, text message and chat.

I guess you can’t really clutch an iChat log close to your chest and cherish the memories of simpler times, can you? My godaughters won’t be able to learn about the love of Nina Karen and Uncle Good Man the way I did, by exploring old scrap books.

Time marches on, but I can’t help but feel that over time we all will have lost something of our personal and enduring history by losing the art of handwritten letters sent in an envelope with a stamp. Just not the same as a click on a screen.








Comic found on People I Know.



Well I’ll Be Darned

Over the many years of our association, The Good Man and I have run into quite a few “well I’ll be darned” moments. New York boy and New Mexico girl are sometimes worlds apart in our life experiences.

The latest came around when we moved into our new apartment home. I’ve lived in huge apartment complexes, six unit buildings, and the last place I lived was a duplex.

And at each of those places, they way you got rid of your trash was to schlep it downstairs to the big metal trash bins in the parking lot.

But our new place has a curiosity….a trash chute! This blows my tiny little mind. I’ve never even seen one much less lived somewhere with one.

This is the coolest thing EVER.



So beautifully unobtrusive





Ok, that hole is a little scary, but rather effective


It’s a pretty, shiny bit of steel. Open the convenient door, drop in my trash, close the door, dust off my hands and whistle a happy tune.

It’s just down the hall and around a corner from my place. I can even slip out there in the morning in my nightgown and bare feet. Fabulous!

The other day, The Good Man put some boxes down the chute and said he was pretty sure they were stuck. I suggested he send a bowling ball down after it. He wasn’t amused.

See, he’s used to the Super getting really mad when the trash chute gets blocked. Me, I don’t know from a Super or a trash chute, so I have the luxury of just being a wise ass.

So The Good Man is all “yeah, whatever” and I’m all “whooooooo!” about this feature of our home.
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Next time, on Intercontinental relations, we’ll discuss “Why are the traffic lights in New Mexico horizontal, that’s just weird” (him) counterbalanced against “Why doesn’t California use mile markers? No wonder you people drive like crap.” (me)



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