I have been thinking a lot about “the West” lately. I guess it’s in my blood—I spent 20 years on the other side of the Mississippi, and no matter how native I feel to New York most days, there’s no denying that my DNA is essentially made of big skies and chalk and pink mountains. I guess this all started a few weeks ago when I was listening to a song called “Lawrence, KS,” in which the singer says that “My wings are made of hay and cornhusks,” and I felt rattled by it. The strange thing about NYC is the fact that most of us have to self-induce a partial lobotomy to live here. To survive, you have to become it, completely. Otherwise, you’re just stuck thinking that it’s more expensive, more competetive, more crazed, and less peaceful than where you were before. You have to just give into it, and doing so, release a grip on your roots and become something of a born again city child, a local, the one to ask for directions.
But this winter, I started having dreams about New Mexico. They started simply: the smell of cedar or a flash of a russet canyon. But lately, they’ve gotten expansive and very real, and I wake up next to my Manhattan boiler hissing and have to take long seconds to remember my location. I’ve also been really drawn to old pictures of Route 66 and vintage Hollywood, farmland and rural ghost towns. I have no idea what this means, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
I love NYC, and before now, I romanticized the city far more than my slow, desert childhood. Still I may need to do some exploring out west when it gets a little warmer, preferably in a car full of people. Roadtrip 2008, anyone?