01 June 2010

can't go home

This past weekend, Heather and I took a road trip to New Mexico.

It's been four years (I think...) since we had been back to the Mescalero/Ruidoso area.  It being Memorial Day weekend and all, I knew Ruidoso was going to be full of visitors.  The races started this weekend and nothing brings Texans to town like horse racing.

Well, OK, in the winter skiing brings them to town too...

I was not wrong.  For every New Mexico license plate I saw, there were five Texas plates.  Heather and I saw a whopping two – count them – two Colorado plates.

Including ours.

There was a time not all that long ago, that I considered moving back to New Mexico.  Southern New Mexico in fact.  After this last trip, I was left wondering "WTF was I thinking?!"

No, I won't be going back there.

I really dislike broad generalizations of certain groups of people, because 1) It's not fair and 2) it's usually way off base.  Having said that, from what I saw this weekend, in my opinion, Texans for the most part are loud, rude, and obnoxious. (Admittedly, a huge part of my bias against Texans stems from my stepmother's family who proved themselves to be well and truly money-grubbing-ticky-tacky-trailer trash.)

And they don't know how to drive.  Or park.  (yeah, yeah, I know, "it's a big vehicle."  So is mine but I still manage to keep it in the lines.  Just sayin' there Billy Bob.)

I've lived in Texas.  In many different cities in fact and for many years.  I never considered myself, "Texan."  I think that's something you have to be born into.

Ruidoso is a tourist town and they are heavily dependent on Texans for bringing in much needed revenue.  Texans are only too happy to do so.  But I just can't see myself living in such close proximity to all those Texans.  A plethora of different scenarios play in mind, and none of them have pleasant endings.

What struck me most about the area is that it HASN'T changed.  The same buildings are there.  Albeit a bit more tired and sad looking than thirty or even four years ago.  The names on some of the buildings have changed but there are still many of the same businesses plodding along as when I was growing up.

Frankly, I think that's a good thing – at least some of the old businesses are still making a go in the crap economy.  What I found disappointing was there weren't any signs of progress or development.  It felt as if I had been transported back to the 1970s.

The people as usual were friendly enough and seemed happy to have folks shopping, eating, and doing whatever they could to spend money.  But it just struck me as a town locked in time.  Conversations overheard indicated the mentality was still as 1970s as the architecture, decor, and hair styles.

There are a lot of good things about the area, don't get me wrong.

There is nothing like the smell of pine to take me back to my younger and much more carefree days.  Hearing the wind in the trees would lull me to sleep.  Seeing deer wandering through town and keeping the lawns "manicured" is something I certainly don't see in Longmont!

The people are friendly.  They smile at you.  They say, "thank you" and "please" and seem genuinely happy that you chose to spend some of your precious down time in their little town.

Most of the businesses are "mom & pop" businesses.  There aren't very many chain stores.  In fact, I don't think they even have a chain grocery store (Furr's and Safeway pulled out years and years ago.)  Yes, they do have a Wally World but that's no surprise.  And they have a Walgreen's but unlike other towns, they only have the one, not one on every corner.

I get the impression the town struggles with moving into the 21st century while trying to retain it's small townness.  It's hard to progress and develop without losing some of your character.

So, while this last visit made it glaringly obvious that the area is not someplace I could ever call home again, I applaud the town for plugging along and keeping themselves true to their character.  My guess is most folks were very happy in the 1970s and don't want to leave that space.  And they won't.

Here are some photos from our trip.  I snapped a few for old times' sake, since I have a feeling this was my last trip "home."  (Well, unless the pull of green chile strips becomes too much to bear.)

house where I grew up in Mescalero

New Mexico road 

Sierra Blanca view

Quintessential New Mexico house

 close up of the gate
Lincoln Cemetery grave

child's grave in the Lincoln Cemetery

wild iris on Ski Run Road