THE CUBIC CENTIMETER OF CHANCE
“All of us, whether or not we are warriors, have a cubic centimeter of chance that pops out in front of our eyes from time to time. The difference between an average man and a warrior is that the warrior is aware of this, and one of his tasks is to be alert, deliberately waiting, so that when his cubic centimeter pops out he has the necessary speed, the prowess, to pick it up.”
Don Juan Matus as quoted by Carlos Castaneda in The Teachings of Don Juan
Don Juan Matus
Before we could finalize our Santa Fe dream we had to find a place to live but it was the spring and summer of 2020 and the COVID lockdown was in full force. Every listing we ran down, every agent we spoke to, came up with nothing in our price range. It was one of those deals where everyone said; “Ya shoulda been here a few months ago.”
We were looking for that cubic centimeter of chance and coming up empty.
JoAnn threw a Hail Mary and called an old friend from Indian Wells, a realtor who was now living in Mississippi. Did she by any chance know anyone in Santa Fe? Turns out she did. JoAnn’s friend had worked with someone in the desert, another realtor named Yancy, who was now living in Santa Fe. The Universe was flipping switches like crazy, making connections like Lily Tomlin at the switchboard.
I called Yancy. We had a great but unproductive conversation. One of those “I’ll call ya if I hear anything…”
Four days later, the conversation long forgotten, I was sitting at my desk in Valley Center on a quiet Sunday afternoon checking emails, thinking about how our gossamer dream was not going to come to fruition and maybe it was time to start looking for a new place in San Diego County when a email popped from a friend of Yancy’s about a house that was available in our price range. I looked at the video of a house not far from the Plaza, the center of Santa Fe, while I held my breath and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. “JoAnn,” I called out, “Check this out. This is exactly what we’ve been looking for.”
The house was everything we had visualized for the past I-don’t-know-how-many-years. A house built in what was called the pueblo revival style on a piece of property surrounded by juniper and piñon trees with views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Jemez Mountains not far from the Plaza. A fireplace in the living room and a traditional kiva fireplace in the bedroom. Heavy pine vigas supporting the pine ceiling. Just what we were looking for. In three days we had pulled it together and we were back on track.
We contacted the mover we had chosen and found out it would take “about” ten days for our “stuff” to make it to Santa Fe so we had to plan for living out of suitcases for that time. Minor details. We got a Queen size air mattress, consolidated all of our kitchen supplies, and targeted the third week of September as M-day, Moving Day.
M-day was Tuesday. The movers worked all day to get everything into the large semi and when it was done and everything tagged with a bar code and everything photographed the crew chief walked over to us. “I can get your furniture out to you in Santa Fe by Friday if you’d like.”
Friday?!?! We hadn’t planned on leaving until Thursday. Macarena’s horse transport wouldn’t be leaving until Thursday night and she wouldn’t get there until Friday. No way would we be ready for the offloading until Monday. He was good with that so we bravely stood in the driveway and watched as most of our worldly possessions went through the gate and out of our hands. What was on the truck was only material things and you can replace material things but there were a lot of memories behind those locked truck doors.
If you’re pushing the speed limit and only stopping for gas and coffee Santa Fe is about a twelve hour drive from Valley Center. We decided to drive Artie, our red F-150 pickup (Red Truck. R. T.), and tow JoAnn’s Hyundai. Artie and I have hauled a lot of horse trailers but we had never towed a car. Minor details. It looked easy when I Googled “how to tow a car” so I went over to U-Haul and reserved a trailer. But when I called to confirm the availability of the trailer a few days before I needed it there was no trailer available anywhere south of Los Angeles. Time for Plan B. I would drive Artie, JoAnn would drive the Hyundai.
Many phone calls later we finally located a car trailer at an out of the way garage in Escondido. I towed it home after the movers were gone and proceeded to find out that turning around a long automobile trailer with a long F150 in a narrow driveway on the slope of a hill falls into the category of easier said than done. Time to call my friend Ray, a man who knows everything about anything. Ray is also a committed and experienced buckaroo, a vaquero horseman in the traditional Californio style, a man of endless patience who taught me how to catch a cow with a reata and ride with a spade bit many years ago.
Ray on Noches and me on Chapo
Ray came over with his ten year old grandson, Aden.
In all fairness to me it even took Ray a while to turn Artie and the trailer around so all I had to do was load the Hyundai on and drive out in the morning. Ray gallantly crawled under the hitch and laid on the asphalt driveway to make sure it was secure. Just for good measure I asked Ray to hang around while we loaded the car. Good thing. I opened two cans of Modelo, gave him one and we watched as JoAnn drove the Hyundai onto the ramp. Easy. But when she tried to open the door of the car the door bumped into the fenders of the trailer and she was trapped inside the Hyundai. She lowered the window. “What now, gentlemen?”
Ray and I looked at each other. Daylight was fast slipping away. We had no idea about what to do. This was something the rental guy hadn’t prepped me for. “Let’s try backing the Hyundai on.”
By this time JoAnn had climbed out of the window on the driver’s side. She climbed back in and drove the Hyundai off and then on backwards. That didn’t work. Out the window again and it was then that I finally noticed some instructions on a weatherbeaten label on the fender of the trailer. The label gave detailed instructions about how to unlock the fender and move it out of the way so the door of the towed car could be opened. Somehow I had missed that.
JoAnn climbed back in through the window one more time and backed the Hyundai off and then turned it around so it was facing forward. The door opened. All was well once again. Ray and I finished our beers, said our goodbyes and we watched as he and Aden drove away. Ray had been more than a good friend, a brother vaquero, and I would miss meeting him from time to time him for coffee and to split a cinnamon bun at CJ’s Deli.
CJ's Deli in Valley Center
JoAnn and I went inside and spent our last night in California on an air mattress in an empty house. JoAnn had lived in California for 45 years. I had lived in California since I was discharged from the Army in 1968 when spent my first night at Mr. C’s Motel on Coast Highway in Long Beach with my German Shepherd, JB. At first light we were down the driveway and gone.
Artie with the Hyundai in tow, ready to roll
Macarena would be there the next night and we had to be there and get ready for that…