As myself, as Caroline - I have always been a loner. In every phase of my life, no matter how I felt about it, it’s been this inescapable characterization to most days of my life - that if I’m around people, I find a way to be alone, and if I’m alone, I either stay that way, or seek someone out, with varying success.
Having lived in the Southwest for a eight years, I’ve met a handful of people whom I really like. Most of them are expats from another place, like me, and many of them are also alone, like me. Even espoused or partnered, with whom one can be alone while keeping their company, we find ourselves either satisfied with our meager social lives or without the skills or know-how to change it. Or we have a LOT of low-maintenance relationships of all kinds with other people.
People ask me all the time, “how do you like living in the Southwest?” My answer has shifted over time but most recently, I’ve been telling people “it’s growing on me!” True story. I used to find the relative isolation of my neighborhood to be perspective dominating. While I no longer live there, it still affects me when I drive near - the old, crumbly cinder-block walls, the sandy landscapes, the walls in front of peoples’ front doors and bars over windows to protect them from petty theft. For some, this is home; but trying to force myself to adopt this as such may have been more harmful than helpful to me, because in my inability to change my needs to conform to my environment, I shut down much self-growth so as not to continue to hurt.
Truth is, now that I don’t feel a dominant bubble of shelter in my surroundings, now that I can see the mountain from my window, now that I’m surrounded by the skies that people stay for, the sun, the trails, and the distant vistas, I can see the atmosphere of the social environment that I’m in just a little bit clearer, and my first impression of that is that nobody, and I mean nobody is making the most of it. Well, maybe someone is, but if they are, they’re keeping the goods to themselves, and not sharing with anyone.
I’m compelled to open up my blog to bigger topics of living in this region, because while there is a collective voice of us professional, creative, lonesome loners, it’s not being represented by anyone, even though many of us voraciously consume media and seek relevance in our lives. Secondly, New Mexico is frequently passed off as an irrelevant or quaint place thanks to the state’s inability to make things work economically, or educationally - so much so that sometimes we get the question “Is New Mexico a state?” (Yes, it is - if you’re asking.) Our neighbors Arizona, Texas, and Colorado don’t seem to have the problems we have making life work with and for their residents. It comes down to one simple idea - that while this area of the world is both ignoring and paying attention to the world at large, the world in return is patting us on the head, touching our petticoats, and going on its merry way.
Despite this passing off, we have enough worldly things going on here to truly have a clout of our own. We host the world’s most photographed event - and who doesn’t love taking pictures? We are home to the only vegetable in the world that is sought out as an ingredient to improve things like cake, cheese, and pizza - if you like spicy. We have hubs of many, many spiritual paths - religious structures and meditation organizations are everywhere, even not always visible. Our desert comes with a water table that still provides potable water to homes. We have our own cultural flavor that, in the busy hubub of American lifestyle, seems to be out of fashion, but without some cultural flavor there would be no escape from said hubub, an rather than needing to create it we simply need to visit our modern and ancient historical places, which dot the landscape.
In warming to myself to this place where I live, I’ve decided to take more time to bring you some of my explorations and perspectives. As an east coast expat, I’ll be irreverent but kind, true to myself, and authentic to my experience. I may be mostly alone, but with you, I’ll be in good company.