YOU'LL NEVER KNOW IF YOU DON'T GO
What does it take to pick up and move almost nine hundred miles away when you’ve lived in an area for decades? And why would anyone want to do that, turn their life upside down to pursue a dream? Especially if that dream is decades old? What would have changed about the dream? Or the dreamer. Would anything have stayed the same? About two thousand years ago Heraclitus thought about that and wrote: No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
The answer? There really is no choice. In the end you will regret the chances you did not take. And you have to go see for yourself. You’ll never know if you don’t go as Doug Coombs used to say. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
For 35 years, moving to Santa Fe has been our goal. It started with that random invitation to play polo in New Mexico.
There is an invisible force field that wraps around our planet just as if a giant magnet was sitting deep in its core generating powerful lines of energy that circle the globe. The force fields they set up influence just about everything about life on Earth. They enable us to use compasses and find magnetic North, they effect geotropism, the way plants grow, the weather, they even influence and govern our creative forces. The main lines of force enter and exit the earth at the poles but there are secondary lines of force that enter our planet and emerge in places like Machu Picchu. And Santa Fe.
I didn’t know that at first. But I felt something. Maybe what Georgia O'Keeffe felt the first time she came to New Mexico in 1929, something that kept her turning back and turning back and coming back for more. And finally, more than twenty years later, she moved from New York City. For good. Georgia Santa Fe. Forever entwined. And now me.
All the players were staying at a sprawling adobe house someone called “Happy Acres,” half in jest. On a few acres in Arroyo Hondo outside of Santa Fe. Debii, one of the players, had rented it for the summer. Everyone had a bedroom but as the last man to arrive I got the distinction of being able to sleep on a couch in the living room in front of the massive stone fireplace. Lucky me. Debii’s two Dobermans thought it was their bed and did not take kindly to the idea of sharing it with some random stranger so the dogs and I had a talk and we agreed that they could lay on the floor next to me if they promised not to wake me.
They woke me anyway. Dogs have this way of deciding what they want you to do and making you do it and then making you think it was your idea all along. I gave up and opened my eyes. My makeshift bedroom was filled with a bluish white light and I thought of the false dawn we used to talk about back when I sailed the tropics but I figured it was too early even for that. Since the Dobies outnumbered me I got out of bed, pushed the sliders back as quietly as I could and the three of us walked into the night. I was right. This was no false dawn. The light was coming from the the biggest, brightest, whitest full moon I had ever seen. It floated in the air like a magician’s illusion.
Shamans, medicine men, native warriors, danced around us, shadows cast by moonlight shining through the branches of the piñon trees. The dogs charged ahead, beyond the silence. I had no idea where I was going but I knew they could find their way back. Or I hoped they could so I kept walking. No light except from the moon. No sound except the beating of my heart. I laid on the couch when we got back, knowing I could never fall back to sleep.
We trailered the horses from Happy acres to the Santa Fe Polo Club the next morning and I took three of them out on the warmup around the track that circled the fields. The polo club was an informal operation back then with an office in a trailer. Polo, as the legendary Bob Skene once said, is the great leveler. Ratings, bank balances, fame, celebrity, don’t hold as much value as the fact that you play. That you are willing to lay it all on the line, get on a horse and ride out onto a field. How well you play is not as important as that you do play and are willing to hang it all out there. I got to spend a lot of time with the great playwright Sam Shepherd, one of my all-time writing heroes. And the Barry brothers from Texas. And a few 8-goalers. And a couple of Argies. That alone was memorable.
Santa Fe and I bonded over the next three days filled with horses and the city and its supernatural ambience. We were like long lost soul mates and after that my life divided itself into two parts: Santa Fe and not Santa Fe…and I couldn’t wait until I could make the time to go back.
That time didn’t come until about a year later.
I welcome your comments, as always. You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I plan to post one of these a week.