I was born in a land of dirt, of long winding roads testing the horizon, a sun burned into my cells, my wrinkles, my damaged eyes. The tangled cottonwoods grow strong, twisting their way through blue and white, branches testing the rules of science and physics. Golden leaves glistening before their fall to the ground, brown and bare.
The full spectrum of brown on parade, not a color, but a shade, an attitude so innate it’s silent. A lifestyle developed by simply being. The solitude of stillness. The beauty of a life lived slowly.
No one really leaves.
Each returns one day or another, having seen the world, its green pastures and the view from the other side of Corrales, knowing now what they couldn’t have known before. A wide net is cast over the state, hung by stars and anchored by mighty stones, pulling each of us back to our roots, deeper and more vast than we could have ever imagined.
But, as with any confines, they rub at first. The more one moves, the more its ropes are noticed, and the burn begins. The idea of escape spreads like a disease, corroding the mind and whispering of evils in your ear, far and deep, all the way to the stalagmites of Carlsbad. An echo begins, chanting, “Leave. Leave,” and to make it stop most pack bags and board planes, weakened by its constant droning.
I fell for this trick once, placing a sign in front of my home, putting everything I loved, everything that felt magical, into brown boxes taped up and thrown in the back of a Ford truck.
It’s safer here. It’s beautiful here. My kids will love it here.
Months passed and my roots shriveled. My jaw hurt from the stories I was telling myself. One day my jaw won, reacting to my naivety like a mother would her daughter, stopping the tantrum by simply not allowing it. Locked but loaded, like the guns on the streets of the home I missed so dearly, my jaw ached.
Soon, my bones did too.
I grew sick and sicker, crying each night as my family slept, promising that I would return one day to the land that I cursed, knowing that only there would I be whole again. My soul yearned for something deeper, for past lives that understood the ceremonies of the kivas and the nuances of baking bread in dirt ovens, building thick adobe walls by hand.
Looking into my children’s eyes, whispering stories of feathered dreamcatchers to my unborn son, I promised to return, one day or another.
Return to the land of light and mystery. To the land steeped in history, strong enough to hold the galloping feet of wild horses, the heavy gates of state prisons.
Entrapped and enchanted. Fed tortillas, tamales, and sopapillas in the desert sand.
Wait for a sign, from the crevices carved in the Sandias from the rivers trickling in the Jemez. From the setting sun over the pueblos of Taos, through the drums of the Navajo, the sirens of the APD, the thunder booming over baby buffalo.
You will return, too.
And I will be waiting.