To The Casita
So I’m picking up from where I left off talking about our trip to New Mexico to celebrate our friend Shirley’s life...
We picked up our rental car and soon were on our way. We hadn’t had much notice before our trip, but, with her usual skill in such matters, Martha had been able to find an AirB&B -- basically a Casita in the back of a house just off Mountain, and very near Old Town. We didn’t know what quite what we getting, but we figured any port in a storm.
Martha at the High Noon, which was one of our very favorite restaurants in Albuquerque’s Old Town. It dates from about 2018 (I tried keeping her in focus while giving the background a soft-focus, oil painting effect).
Also...well, truth be told, I clinched a bit when I saw the address. When I was a boy, that wasn’t a real good place to be. Oh, yes, there were some nice folks there, but it had the reputation of a hard luck sort of neighborhood, and some of the individuals who wandered in and out of it were not the type you’d care to meet at night.
What I had forgotten, of course, was that “when I was a boy” was about 50 years ago. A little more, actually. And after half a century things have changed a little. Okay, a lot.
The thing to remember is that neighborhoods tend to go through distinct cycles. At least in the USA, they begin as working- to middle-class communities. They are such for many, many years...even generations. But, then, they age. The buildings wear out. Other areas become more fashionable. And, while it may take a long time, eventually they are slums. Or, if that term is incorrect these days, they are “undesirable.”
But, then they come back to life. Young people, people who are DIYers, people who are artists and others who have grand ambitions and significant talents but no or little money, find these areas, buy up properties cheaply (some communities will even pay you to move in. See this article: https://www.movebuddha.com/blog/get-paid-to-move/), and gradually transform the place. Again, it may take a very long time, but, eventually, the drug houses and shooting galleries are replaced by home studios and performance spaces, the abandoned buildings are turned into coffee shops and art galleries, the decaying warehouses are somehow transformed into software boutiques...
And then, surprise! the larger community...the city or town...looks up and says, Oh-My-Gosh! This is a happening place! And the studios are joined by trendy restaurants and expensive condos. Gradually, the area becomes too costly for the artists and creatives and technicals who originally turned it into something new and beautiful...and they flee to other, less desirable neighborhoods, and the whole process begins again.
Well, the area in which we stayed was now in stage two. The creatives and artists and young entrepreneurs are moving in and changing reality. Things are raw and exciting and new and there is an experiment (and, alas, a culture clash) on every corner.
I felt at home there.
Following directions from our friend, Apple Maps, we turned a corner and there, looming out of the gathering darkness, was a small house. There was a narrow driveway, and Martha said we could park in it. A moment later, we were out of the car, and I was hauling our suitcases over a gravel driveway. I thought we were going into the house itself, but, no. Martha said we were around back. She led the way to a fence opening up in the house’s back yard. She used her phone as a flashlight and entered a combination on a lock in the gate. It opened. We stepped in.
And there...in back...behind a little patio... was one of the most beautiful little houses I have seen in a very long time.
More to come.
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