Hungover in a hot room with no sleep. I have driven across Texas to get here. Every time I saw a dead armadillo on the shoulder, I had to weigh the pros and cons of pulling over and taking a picture. What would I really do with a photograph of that? It would be nothing but my own way of getting close to one, maybe even touching one. Fascinating they are, like armored rats. No reason to shake the image. It somehow makes the morning sharper. I like the idea of no sleep. It brings up youth, calls back the idea that we are here to endure ourselves. The room is big and floored with small red bricks. My dog panted all night next to my bare leg, his head facing the open window. I reach down and pat his snout, look out through the screen and watch the desert. My eyes would sweat if they could.
Corrales is a village just north of Albuquerque. My buddy, Luke, and his girl, Rachel, moved here from the bullshit of Portland. I’ve been meaning to stop by for many months, but I never had the time. Not that I have a lot of it now, but I was determined to make it out to get here. I was hired by The Albion to write some stories on the west coast this summer, and it’s right on my way, but I would have made it regardless. Their pup, Maria, takes Chico on a tour of the neighborhood. They run the small dunes and flirt. Rachel stands barefoot next to Luke while he hands me cold can of beer from the outside fridge. We watch the dogs and drink. Their house is long and tall and perfect. They talk about lucking into the place, about their good neighbors and the horse next door who Rachel has renamed Violet.
Connections. Luke is one of those people you meet and instantly like. I remember knowing him for about five minutes, we talked about living and so on, on Alberta Street, while I stood holding a coffee and watching ugly hipster girls pedal by, and he just goes into something randomly and personal about his life, without brakes. It was refreshing, actually, totally away from the boring and guarded banter the NW is becoming dulled with. I lost touch with Luke after I left on what became a long book tour, and when we met up again, he had found Rachel and they’d decided to go after a more substantive life, free of the weakness of trend, free of constant rain.
A lot to be said about love and life. A lot, too, to be said about being drunk in a desert cantina at noon with no sleep, shooting pool and sweating under the questionable mercy of an ancient swamp cooler. I won’t go into detail about why I am lucky to be here and drunk and staring at the red velvet table while across the street donkeys and goats and chickens run the dirt yards adjacent to to the only main drag in the village. That’s a different story coming in due time. But standing here leaning on the cue stick and listening to the jukebox while the Bloody Marys and whiskey and ales go to their work on the other side of the heat is something I admire. My time here is short lived, my friends here are beautiful, and I have the strong idea that I have a book waiting for me to write in this place. I remain until I absolutely have no more time to stay, and I make the long drive back west, where I sit here and think about the dream of life, while a text message from my friend Dave in Long Beach finds me saying that Wurzel from Motorhead finally died from heart failure, an email comes in letting me know when to pick up the magazine photographer flying in from the UK, and outside the wind is cold but it’s sunny, and I have finally reunited with Trader Joe’s coffee. Life is fucked but it’s also greatly good. All tragedy aside, all complaints and worries noted, all the deaths and screams and corpses of animals, the smiles of children and the fields of dirt to be farmed for beer money, I have nothing but good things around me right now.
I used to work with Luke at the UO. Tell him hey from Stacy at Media Services.
Hi, Stacey. Are you still working there? Good to hear from you. -luke
Nice write up, Jeff. It was great to see you. You’re welcome any time.
Love this. And now I need to get out to the desert…