Here we go again. Not Thanksgiving yet, and two snowstorms already. The first one was bigger. Snow, snow, snow. Just means you have to stay home. Maybe you even want to at first, with a wood stove six feet from your chair. It’s just so confining inside thick adobe walls with proto-winter settling in for six long months. Maybe this is what television is for. I wouldn’t know, we’ve gone for years without. But Jesus, it was 80 °F and sunny in Austin yesterday. People got out and did stuff. (Not complaining, just observing.) For that matter, it was 58 °F in Eugene and probably rained. My wife looked out the window and keened, “It’s so gr-a-a-a-a-y!” So much for my new log cabin home in the sky. What does it all mean?
I had a visitation from a lunatic the other day. (I know I’m crazy, but I’ve only been here fifteen years, comprendo?) He drove up in the mud and slush while I was walking back from the mailbox as the sun went down. I was looking at an extra from a Wild West movie: cowboy hat, long hair, and beard. Friendly fellow, though. Voice like a cement truck. Former tenant in the same house as us, lived there ten years before the heroin addict. I wish I were making this up. He was looking for the people who used to live next door because he needed someone to help take care of his two horses, or maybe I got that part wrong. How would they have been of any use? Like leaving a dead van with flat tires parked out front “to show that someone’s there” (a neighbor’s innovation), there was no logic to the tale. It was getting dark, and I was sinking deeper in the mud, standing by the open driver’s window, trying not to stare at the giant silent devil-dog in the back seat. Did I mention he was friendly?
“Say, if I come back here again, would it be all right for me to knock on your front door?”
Oh sure. I waited a few beats, but fine. What else am I going to say, freezing in the dark? Who are you? Just please don’t ask to see the old place and what became of the “improvements” that you made, because it ain’t a-gonna happen.
“What do you do? You don’t work. You’re old.”
Jesus Christ. The guy was sucking data from me like a vacuum cleaner, not to mention I was standing in the mud, holding important mail for fruitcake offers from Corsicana. I also didn’t want the Ghost of Ancient Hippie Madness running loose around the place again, not after exorcising so damn much. What did I have to do, sacrifice a goat? Dennis Hopper used to live around the corner, down a dirt road where he roared out wasted once in a big sedan and nearly ran over a dog belonging to someone else who doesn’t live here any more. This stuff is everywhere, it’s in the dirt. Fucking pot shards, arrowheads, old bones. Dead volcanoes and the mindset.
Just then my apparition’s cell phone rang. To my surprise, he picked it up (“Hello, honey!”), oh holy intervention. I waved good-bye and slipped away. As if.
No matter what you do, you can’t escape the past in Taos, especially the painful parts. All of it is painful, really, if held up to the present. People talk of art and creativity, but I haven’t seen much liberating spirit. It’s more a matter of the deepest plunge, good for getting to the bottom if you need to. The chthonic forces here are like a yoke. Even in this little neighborhood, I feel the pull from down below. Sometimes I mistake it for an inspiration. Every now and then, it is!
As someone told me recently:
You’re one of the few who arrived and immediately experienced the spiritual imagination of the place and appreciated it in an articulate and instinctive way. What intrigues me is how many people move here and are tone deaf. I can’t figure out why they are here since they might as well live in Colorado: beautiful but soul-less…the chthonic spirits are absent. Course sometimes a man needs relief from the resonating spirits. They can drive you mad.
If only I were tone deaf, but I’m not. So yes, I’m driven mad. I need the pill that makes you never notice—money?—or we need to find expansion and relief. Maybe buying in would make a difference. It would still be cold, of course, and Taos would never change. That’s the bottom line. Here it is, not Thanksgiving yet, and I would be invisible again—exactly what I do not need!