Something happened the other day and I don’t know, yet, what it was. Kathy and I did a road trip to Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch as a treat on her last day here. I’d never been to either, which is amazing because they’re only about an hour and a half away from my house. For those of you who don’t know, Abiquiu is where Georgia O’Keeffe settled when she moved to New Mexico. Ghost Ranch is a conference/art center on some of the land she called home.
To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of O’Keeffe’s work (that may be changing since I recently saw my first original paintings at a show hung in the O’Keeffe Museum and was surprisingly taken by them). I have admired aspects of her life, however, and like to consider my face in its O’Keeffe phase. She single-handedly has given me permission to grow wrinkled with grace and beauty.
But something happened on that drive, after we left the small village of Abiquiu itself and headed into a sweeping vista of mesas, open valley, mountains and canyons. To our left it was all blues and whites—a winter wonderland. On our right it was ochre, rust and ruby red with buckskin colored grasses showing up through the snow. It was magical everywhere I looked. I was in awe—more so than I think I’ve ever been, except maybe for the first time I experienced Monument Valley. My mouth was agape, literally, when I wasn’t exclaiming over the beauty before me.
And my heart filled. I swear my chest expanded like a balloon. I don’t know how to say it any other way than it felt like I was home. This was my land. My place. It had nothing to do with Georgia. I haven’t admired her life THAT much—I mean not the place, specifically, just that she was so strong and independent at a time when it was mostly not accepted. I admired that. But I’d never given any thought at all to where or how she lived. I didn’t really care.
We turned up the road to Ghost Ranch and came upon an abandoned log house and I’m not kidding, I was calculating the distance to the closest grocery store. I wanted to buy the place! I saw Keele there and Skye and the cats. This just doesn’t happen to me folks.
On the drive back, again through that valley, I FELT myself there. I was living a life there—a good life—a great life. I caught a glimpse of me wandering a dirt path gathering rock and bone and feathers, picking Juniper berries, deep in reverie. I saw myself hanging my dusty coat on a hook in the entryway, greeting the animals. I felt my quiet night and it felt good. I was, deeply, at peace.
I have no idea what this means but it was extremely powerful. I definitely will go back, do some hikes; go to Georgia’s house. That’s all I know—all I need to know. But I can’t help thinking I have some mysterious future there. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, we shall see.
I am thinking of Kathy, of my nudges and prods toward leaving the known and venturing into the unknown–very easy advice to dish out. I find myself feeling disconcertingly discomforted. My apologies, Kathy. I take it all back!
Love to you all,