When asked, “Do you have a favorite place?” The first place that comes to mind is Santa Fe, New Mexico. I can tell you a lot about that place and why it is my favorite. The moment I think/write/say that – my mind is a flood of ideas, places, and possibilities. I have a lot of favorites – and a lot of reasons that those places appeal to me.
The thing is, what makes a place so special? What makes one place more special than another. What all of my favorite places have in common is the way I feel when I am there. So, may I venture to say that my favorite place is one in which my heart is happy?
Today that place might be right outside on my patio watching the trees sway in the wind and the fluffy white clouds roll by overhead. Tomorrow it might be driving along Pacific Coast Highway looking at the ocean waves from my Jeep with the top down and the sun shining on my shoulders as my hair blows around my face. Tomorrow night it might be in Hollywood with my son and his friends attending a concert and recalling the fun times I had there in my youth! The sites and sounds of the city, the fast cars, the restaurants and clubs, the cool people, are so intriguing and exciting to me!
I love New Mexico in general because I feel at home there. I travelled there enough as a child with my parents that I have explored the different terrains, and enjoyed the seasons there. Camping, hiking, fishing, shopping, visiting museums, eating . . . lots of exploring!
When I was a teenager, my cousin tought me to drive in Albuquerque, so I explored the area in a different way. When I go there now, I know my way around. I have a level of comfort that I only have in a few places. When I arrive I am welcomed in a way by my family that feels like “coming home!” When I leave I feel sadness. I will miss that place. I know I will be back.
Santa Fe is special. I love the history, the art, the people, the food, the churches, the galleries, the restaurants, the climate, the sights and the sounds. It is unique to that place. Every time I go there, it is the same. From the red color of the ristras hanging in every doorway, to the dusty shades of brown of each adobe building, to the rich turquise sky, mother of pearl clouds and corral sunsets – Santa Fe thoroughly enchants me to my core! I receive a sense of belonging, I feel a sense of stability and strength. I connect with the earth, the sky and the air in that place.
I look into the eyes of the people there, into their smiles and their wrinkled faces and worn fingers and I see my roots, my ancestry. The shape of the women’s bodies are the same as the shape of my grandmother’s, my mother’s, myself. The inflections and tone in the voices of the people there are the same as my mother’s, my aunts’ and uncles’, and my cousins’ voices. The deep dark amber brown eyes of the people there look at me with a familiarity and beckoning that says, “come home with me, do you want something to eat?” The beautiful and flabby arms of the old women envelope me with hugs that feel like a set of soft warm wings wrapping around me and bringing me in to their bosom as if I was their own child, their own flesh and blood. “Mija, it’s good to see you, you are such a beauty! You look just like your mom!”
And don’t get me started on the food! Okay, I have to go there! “Red or green?” “Both of course!” Sopapillas with honey, tortillas with green chile, beens with red chile. . . the spiciness is different than any other flavor I have ever tried, it’s hot and warm and lasting, never over-powering, never intrusive, never intense or bitter, just like the love that I feel when I arrive in that town! I have claimed Santa Fe, New Mexico as my hometown!
MY HOMETOWN by Yoko Ono
Do you know where your hometown is?
Your hometown is a place you choose.
Get a map of the world.
Pin a little flag on a place on the map you’d like to go to.
The place you’ve put your flag is your hometown.
Let’s find a way to make this flag something you’ll be proud of.
Start by giving your hometown a name you want to call it by.
Find out some things about your hometown.
Make a scrapbook of images and people from your hometown, and add your comments about them.
Look after your hometown in your mind. Send it lots of love.
In your mind help anyone there who needs help.
If there are any broken-down houses, mend them in your mind.
If there are any people who are ill, make them better in your mind.
If any of the streets need cleaning, clean it in your mind.
If there are any children who are crying, wipe their tears away in your mind.
Find out about the past and present of your hometown.
If anything terrible has ever happened there, think about it, and try to take away the pain that’s still there.
If there’s something terrible going on there now, focus your thoughts on it, and try to take away all the pain.
Quietly tell your best friends about the problems of your hometown,
and ask them to solve them in their minds.
Put up some nice photos of your hometown in your room.
Write a diary about your hometown.
Keep sending your powerful energy to your hometown until more people start to smile and laugh and enjoy themselves.
Keep going until your efforts start to make things better in your hometown.
One day we’ll realize that all the towns in the world are someone’s hometown.