Sometimes we must retrace our own footsteps and dig deep into our own roots in order to bring forth new beginnings. We must dig deeper than our youth, deeper than our time of birth, deeper than our parents’ births.
Deeply entwined within the heart of my soul is a native New Mexican essence. Generations of memories have been passed down to me through my ancestors, and I begun remembering them at the time I started writing my novel when I was 14. I hadn’t actually visited the specific scenes I visualized as I wrote… until four years later, when I went on a summer road trip from Cheyenne to Santa Fe and spotted peculiarly familiar locations on roadsides, in churches, and adobe houses (some of which my grandparents and great-grandparents built).
San Luis, located in southern Colorado on the border, was especially distinct in my instinctive memory. I remember walking out of a restaurant/bar and double-taking the view before me. No. It couldn’t be… It was Anaranjado, the fictional city I thought I’d been clever enough to create from scratch! It was my grandmother’s hometown, where she learned to flip tortillas from her mother and helped mold adobe bricks with her father. It was where she attended school taught by nuns at the convent. It was where the entire community of Spanish settlers held kitchen dances, removing all the furniture and dancing just for a good time.
I can see the smiles and laughter on their faces as they danced. I can hear the accordion and banjo music my relatives used to play together as a band. I can smell the corn tortillas broiling and the posole simmering. I can feel the warmth radiating from the hearts of those people, as warm as the New Mexican sun. I can relive those moments, for now, until I go back and experience that once again.
In a month of windy weather and dark clouds, I can’t help but crave the taste of the sunshine. I can’t help but dig out old New Mexico magazines and envision myself playing gigs in Santa Fe wearing the dress I bought specifically because of that. Or sitting on a rock near the river, finishing my novel. Perhaps also wildcrafting herbs and working at an apothecary there while I’m at it… And still, maybe it’s only important to keep these visions and memories in my heart at all times so that I never lose that root essence of myself. Today, I wear green turquoise earrings and a patterned pendant around my neck to remind myself of this, and also to spread NM’s essence to all others I encounter.