Thursday, July 17, 2008

La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís

I think I'm probably a terrible house guest. I'm not the type to rifle through your medicine cabinet or drink your last beer; I'm just inordinately fond of sitting around with you and not doing much of anything. You can ask me seven hundred times what sights I want to see, but mostly I'm happy just to be hanging out so long as the topographic landscape of the couch under my caboose is exotically different than the Ikea model on which I regularly camp out. The thing is, I work in an office. My life is spent in pursuit of the elusive balance of Windows applications that will project efficiency but guarantee a maximum of bullshitting is accomplished during the eight hours I am contractually bound to my cubicle. When I can pursue leisure with all the proper tools of the trade (a credit card, a plane ticket, vacation days, whiskey, a friend in a far away city, and the constant awareness that I will never see any of these people again), I do so like I'm panning for gold in a stream, looking for pure, shiny moments of unadulterated time off.

After the world's longest Friday night, I arrived in Santa Fe looking like a homeless lady, smelling like an airplane, filled with complimentary pretzels, wired on complimentary coffee, and confused about the relationship of the people I'd sat next to for an entire flight across the country. Were they mother and son or husband and wife? Why did the one speak only English and the other only Spanish? Was the man developmentally disabled or just an asshole? What were they carrying in the overhead compartment that was wrapped in newspaper and leaking? Why do I always get the awesomest seat on the plane?

Anyway, I was there to visit my friend Brian, who I have seen for approximately 24 hours in the past two years. I like that I'm writing like 1. he doesn't read this and 2. anyone else does, but the conceit works for me and I'm just gonna run with it. He'd warned me that Santa Fe was weird and that everything closed early and even that I might not be able to breathe because of the altitude, but the pictures he sent looked pretty and I had never been further west than Oklahoma and I rarely get to see him so I went. And also, the desert. Like the polar ice caps, or sorority houses, or the entire state of California, the desert is this thing that existed only as a myth in my mind.

My friends and fellow nonbelievers, I present this photo as proof that the desert does, indeed, exist. I even saw lizards and cacti and shit. Brian says he's seen tumbleweeds, but since I didn't see any I'm going to go ahead and call him a liar.

Not that I'm qualified to make broad generalizations about a city after spending four days there, but I'm about to do just that. Santa Fe is this strange blended cocktail of New Age spirituality, rich old people, tourists, weird hippie/yuppie hybrids, "artists" who have cultivated their eccentricity, and then everyone who's not white selling them shit on blankets like it isn't the world's biggest hustle. It's really, really weird. Like, okay, I bought the paper at coffee place? But like, a serious coffee place. A coffee as religion kind of a place, like, where they make designs in the foam on your latte. The guy who sold it to me suggested that the sections of the Times that I don't read could make a "killer paper mache project." And also, as a kicker, everything is made out of adobe so you kind of feel like you're walking around the Epcot center version of the Southwest, because even, like, the bank and the McDonald's are aggressively picturesque.

Because Brian rules, he managed to come up with a ton of shit that was right up my alley. Namely: a staircase that has been featured on "Unsolved Mysteries," the world's fattest prairie dogs, and an absolutely insane warehouse of a store called the Black Hole that sells 50 years of decomissioned military equipment from the Los Alamos labs.

Apparently some nuns prayed for a staircase and some guy came and built this with no nails and left before they could pay him. It was Jesus. Obvi.

The sveltest of the fatass prairie dogs. I will upload the photo of the John Goodman of the rodent world later.

Seriously, this place was the coolest. The dude who worked there behind the counter gave us patches that say "Let there be nuclear light" and "In bombs we trust." It's going on my bag immediately.

Brian and his girlfriend Rani also took me up to Bandelier, where you can poke around in cave dwellings and, if you're me, look like a total New York douchebag for wearing dress flats and skinny jeans while you do so. Aside from being awesome, Rani earned the distinction of taking one of approximately seven photos of me that I will show anyone, and do so herewith:

So, see, I saw sights. This doesn't change the fact that my favorite parts of visiting Brian, like my favorite parts of visiting any of my friends, involved driving around and listening to music (how Lil Wayne has become a recurrent theme in the soundtrack of my life I'm not sure, but I like it), drinking, good bad movies, fast food, and sitting around on the couch.

On the way home on the plane, seated next to yet another weirdo with a mushroom haircut because, apparently, it's 1994, I started to hatch this half-baked and kind of hippie theory that there are probably as many ways to be friends as there are people you will ever know. I blame the vauge southwestern New Agey mindset for it never gestating to the the point where there was a point, but think about it: there are the friends you've always known, the friends you used to know that you don't anymore, the friends you see nearly every day, the friends who duck into and out of your life. Friends who get stuff without you saying anything. Friends of necessity: the coworkers and the neighbors and the bartenders and the coffeeshop people and the friends of friends. The friends you can be quiet with. Those awkward friends you used to like or used to hate. Friends for hanging out in garages, or for singing in the car, or for talking about boys, or for watching DVD marathons, or for getting in fights, or for not wearing pants.

See, that's when I fell asleep and woke up as we were finally decending into JFK, and so it's just a list and not even that great of a paragraph. But whatever, put it together however you like. I'm pretending I'm still on vacation.


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