May 12th, the morning after my birthday. I wake up first. No that’s not true. First my dog Freyja (the cats are always up), then baby, then me. Hours later the male dog, the male human, and Lady, the androgynous chihuahua/terrier mix in the pink sweater.
I’m spending an inordinate amount of time in bed, staring at the hamsa on the wall, and wondering why I’m always broke and more directionless than when I was 17. So what now? I self-published too fast with typos I fixed two weeks late and a book every single person in my family and my husband’s family hates, and I have no money whatsoever so I can’t really advertise and half the things I talk about would (even with changed names) likely offend someone in my hometown, my hospital, or everywhere. So what now?
We drive to the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm, and I buy a slice of cake and lavender ice cream. Charley doesn’t get me anything but he is there and that is his present, he says, his presence.
We walk around prepubescent lavender plants, a nest of baby birds, and a red Harley. The farm is half fake flowers, portapotty and trailers, and half real flowers, giant cottonwoods, lavender, and an old wheelbarrow rotting in a field. Once everyone was saturated with lavender, we drove to Ghost Ranch and Echo amphitheater.
Ghost Ranch is a red rock paradise. Georgia O’Keeffe lived around here. She said “I hate flowers; I paint them because they’re cheaper than models.” But I don’t think she hated flowers at all. They were small little worlds in her hands. They were easy to undervalue and lose, like friendship.
Georgia painted because she couldn’t go to all of the places she wanted to travel to or see all the places she wanted to see, so she painted them at the very least.
“I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.”
Echo amphitheater is located in the sandstone cliffs of Tierra Amarilla and supposedly carries the stains of Wild West killings. The national monument, where a tribe of Navajo once slaughtered a family of settlers, shows the history of rocks from millions of years ago, and is all shades of red and yellow tinged with blue and maroon.
Maybe in response to the legend of slaughtering Navajo, another story says a number of Navajo were later murdered in the same spot, staining the cliff wall with their blood. So now the natural echo in the sandstone cliffs is said to be the voices of the unquiet dead.
At Ghost Ranch five miles up, I point out these ancient rock layers to Dakota in the paleontology museum. We touch fossils and she tries to stick a dinosaur bone in her mouth. Everything is edible at seven months.
May 13th: Dakota is 7 months old. Lunch with her grandmama Tracy and British god-grandmama Fiona. Sitting by the creek, with the sun, it’s almost like everything is perfect and everyone is happy and life is perfect and good. Trying not to focus too much on this marriage to someone who told his ex baby mama I’m a hateful bitch and appears to hate me.
Someday I’ll remember this town. It will be a faint memory of a place between red rocks and sand dunes, that smelled like skunk sometimes and juniper other times, but mostly like sage.