NEVER SELL YOUR SADDLE
Christmas 2020, Santa Fe, NM
The Plaza is in the mid-foreground ablaze with colored lights and the Basilica of St. Francis dominates the scene. Sangre de Cristo Mountains behind. We live about three miles behind the Basilica, where the land slopes gently upward.
Photo courtesy of Gene Peach Photography www.genepeach.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2020
Our Santa Fe dream started when we went there together for the first time in1986 and it never went away. We did go back. Year after year. Santa Fe was a slightly exotic shape shifter, a chimera, always familiar, always different. We told each other we would live there someday. When the time was ripe. We consoled ourselves with the fact that it had taken Georgia O’Keeffe about 25 years to make that happen. We reminded ourselves that more than 60 years after she first set foot in the magic city she remembered how she felt when she went there for the first time in 1917: “From then on, I was always on my way back.” We figured if she ultimately could do it, we could too.
Not so fast…
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans… JoAnn started an equestrian marketing company in 1986, raised a record amount of sponsorship for the 1987 US Open Polo Championship in Indio, California, and then helped San Diego Polo Club get started. But fashion had been her passion since she was young and after two years of being an entrepreneur she enrolled in FIDM, the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Following her passion. She graduated magna cum laude.
That was the beginning of her dream career as the international buyer for Giorgio Beverly Hills, a career that proved every day that finding and sharing your passion is irresistible.
JoAnn hard at work at Giorgio Beverly Hills
After twelve years in the fashion capitals of the world JoAnn moved down to the desert full time after Giorgio finally closed their doors on Rodeo Drive.
Time to saddle up for Santa Fe, right? Well yes…and no.
Not long after JoAnn became a full time desert rat, Hyatt Grand Champions approached me to open a medical spa in their newly enlarged spa in Indian Wells. Those were the days when telling someone you were opening a medical spa got you a quizzical look. At the time there were only a handful of medical spas in the country and JoAnn and I literally wrote the book on the concept. Together we created The Medical and Skin Spa, which became the internationally renowned, multi award-winning embodiment of our mantra: Health and Beauty, Inside and Out.
If you have ever seen one of the old black and white movies from the 1940’s you might remember how they showed the passage of time: they would film a wall calendar and have the pages blow off and fly away. Dust in the wind. Looking back, that’s what those years seemed like. The wind that blew the pages away was life. The medical spa became an all-consuming endeavor, fodder for a lot of late night conversations. We had sold peace of mind for success but we still yearned for a place at the end of a long dirt road, someplace where we could put our feet up and finish all of the unfinished conversations we had started over the years. No cellphones. Fireplace nights. Animals.
Tesuque Village Market - Tesuque, NM
We always fantasized it would be somewhere near the Tesuque Village Market just north of Santa Fe and we laughed and dreamed and told each other we would only emerge once a month to see if anyone had left a message for us on their old wall phone.
We finally closed The Medical and Skin Spa and left the desert in Artie’s rear view mirror in 2016. (Artie II - our red F150) We collected Sam the Dawg and Macarena, our one remaining polo pony, and moved on to North County San Diego, to a very small town in the mountains called Valley Center. Vaquero country. A place where the clink of conquistador spurs still echoed off the old Engelmann oak trees. Santa Fe was fading away like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. Soon all that would be left was a smile.
A little over a year there we were sitting out on the portal off the kitchen watching the rising sun throw dancing shadows on Palomar Mountain across Pauma Valley when JoAnn looked at me with that look and said: “What ever happened to Santa Fe? We always said we would move there.”
It was a question I had been asking myself. And ignoring. I took a sip of coffee. And then she added: “Do you think we waited too long?”
I took a long breath. And then another. From Bilbo Baggins to Doug Combs there are hundreds of philosophers who said, one way or another, if you don’t go you’ll never know. It would be hard. Really hard. I thought about one of my mantras: hard is not a reason not to do something. And then I said to myself, self, you know the worst thing you can do is never try. “Yeah,” I finally said, “probably. But if we don’t go now we’ll never go.”
The dream had been hanging out there for 34 years. We were about to find out how badly we wanted to make it come true. How much would we be willing to do?
What would it take to upend our life and move 900 miles away to follow a dream, a promise we had made to each other decades before when we were decades younger? The words of Richard Bach echoed in my ear: “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”