Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Year in the Land of Enchantment

It's been awhile, blog! I started to write a post a couple months ago about the best books I read in 2013, but that felt too pretentious so I moved on to other things. (Short version: Everyone should read The Round House.) Now it's practically the middle of April, we're almost done with our taxes, and we've been in Santa Fe for just about a year! (Eric got here April 1st of last year, but my New Mexico anniversary isn't technically until the 21st... just in case anyone's curious.)

Sunny winter day in Santa Fe
Sometimes the fact that we live in Santa Fe seems so bizarre. When people ask us how we got here - a question we get a lot, seeing as youth in Santa Fe are somewhat of an anomaly - we usually shrug our shoulders and say something like, "We picked it on a map and we ended up both getting jobs!" Which is the short version.

The long version? After some great years in Bellingham, I was ready for someplace new (and sunnier). Eric had worked seasonal jobs for a couple years and wanted some steadier employment. We both wanted to live in the same place, instead of going months at a time without seeing each other and spending all our money on plane tickets. Eric had some job connections in California, so the Bay Area seemed like a logical choice.

... Until we started looking at rent prices, and wondering if an outdoor educator and a nonprofit office worker would be able to afford it. It was bumming us out.

Around this time, I was reading a lot of Barbara Kingsolver, who lived in Tuscon for a number of years. I said to Eric, "You know, I'd love to live in the southwest someday." Eric said, "I would be down to live in Santa Fe." We did some quick research on the internet and liked what we saw. We realized that living closer to family in Colorado would make it much less expensive to visit them. So a few weeks later, when we were both in Colorado for the holidays, we took a road trip and spent 24 hours in Santa Fe, visiting the farmer's market, the food co-op, and a brewery (gotta have your priorities), and we still liked it. After a few months filled with dozens of job applications, we were both employed. And thus began our grand adventure!

A blurry photo from our anniversary dinner in February at Il Piatto.
 Last summer, I read this advice from Cheryl Strayed about how to know if you want kids - but it's really about how to come to terms with the decisions we make and don't make in our lives. What she writes at the end is pretty poignant:

If I could go back in time I’d make the same choice in a snap. And yet, there remains my sister life. All the other things I could have done instead... Would I be happier and more intelligent and prettier if I had been free all this time to read in silence on a couch that sat opposite of Mr. Sugar’s? Would I complain less? Has sleep deprivation and the consumption of an exorbitant number of Annie’s Homegrown Organic Cheddar Bunnies taken years off of my life or added years onto it? Who would I have met if I had bicycled across Iceland and hiked around Mongolia and what would I have experienced and where would that have taken me?  

I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.

Who knows if we could have been this happy and successful in the Bay Area, or in Colorado, or in any other part of the world? I personally like to think that we could make a good home together wherever we choose to go, but I've got to admit that it's hard to imagine a scenario where things work out quite as well as they have here in Santa Fe. For starters, how could we ever have found a cat more awesome than Zeezy? Where would we have eaten as much amazing food? We'll never know, but I sure do feel happy that this is our life.

Zeezy's favorite place in our new house

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