It's been a long way to Santa Fe. I'm legs up on a motel bed that immediately broke underneath my exhausted collapsing body last night at Garretts Desert Inn. Not the first thing my ego wanted to encounter after walking every day for two months but the new found curve provides an incredible temperpedic sleeping experience and I am in heaven. Based on some of the four hundred pound tourist folk I saw in the parking lot earlier, I'm guessing that America broke my bed before I ever laid down on it.
Turns out Santa Fe is the Harvard of New Mexico! It's filled with small walkable streets, old chapels, fancy cafes, and antique shop after antique shop after native jewelry store after antique shop. It's got little parks and museums and chapels with crazy wind chimes and....shops! I can see why I've heard so many lovely things, we all agree our Mother's would just love it here. I'm pretty sure the city officially closes at 9pm and we are here on a weekend. It took of all of two days to walk to ole Santa Fe from ole Albuquerque where we met some incredibly nice friends and lost a crew member permanently. That's the way things go.
Santa Fe also looks exactly like Albuquerque walking in, a vast city laid out in front of shadowed mountains as you walk over and down a long ridge to enter. So much land, so many buildings, so few inhabitants, so many tourists. Considering I passed a sign that read Las Vegas 90 Miles on the way I all but thought I had entered the Twilight Zone. Jack reassured me there is a Las Vegas New Mexico, I still don't believe it, and we were indeed heading to Santa Fe. So here we are, maybe. It is relaxing and it is beautiful and historic and quiet and exactly what we need right now. I am infinitely happy to have made it here alive and be able to shower in a not so public restroom for once. A.J. is at the desk hammering through some pretty extensive mix cd's he's making for Phoenix, the shaman we met at the Zuni Mountain Sanctuary two weeks ago. I've gone through a lot since leaving Arizona. Let me take you back...
Look to see
Listen to hear
Breathe to smell
Feel to Touch
Savor to taste
These are the last words Phoenix will be speaking to me for now. The storm is setting down over the northern New Mexico mountains, aptly blowing his long, scraggly brown hair in the wind as he leaves me with this philosophy. He stares me in the eye and with a low, calm voice, one in which he has only been speaking in for the past two minutes that transcends ego or personality, he says, "You've seen these things. You know it's true. Good Bye Mark". He turns sharply and walks back to the Juniper house where the others are celebrating this gloomy, chilling Monday.
I know exactly what he is talking about but not really because I am repeating in my head,
Look to see
Listen to hear
Breathe to smell
Feel to Touch
Savor to taste
Experience the intangible to describe the relatable? Faith and reason at the same time...Knowing from experience. And this is a major point that came up in not so many ways here at the Zuni Mountain Sanctuary. It is home and commune to a group of primarily homosexual artists known as the Radical Faeries. They have many locations in the wild like this spread throughout the U.S. and they find their way here from big cities and small, good lives and bad, sickness and health. They're everywhere. Beware! The Faeries at Zuni are self sufficient and self serving, they live off of the land and for each other in tempered harmony with their surroundings. I think the government would refer to these people here as evil socialists. I even got to grab eggs from underneath a chicken in their coop, all fresh and warm and gooey. They were pink and brown and yellow and blue and Easter suddenly made a little bit more sense now. We made a quiche with them the next morning.
As the door slams in the wind behind Phoenix, I look to the sky and see the last remnants of sunlight fading. I look back to the house where the party is starting, Faeries dancing and drinking and singing, and I see the last remnants of sobriety fading. The clouds roll heavily overhead and thunder trickles miles off. I've learned my lesson from being stuck in the dirt and I will not see us stranded seven miles from the road for a week because the pastures are too muddy to drive the R.V. on tomorrow and I have a radio interview in the morning. If there is one thing I have learned this weekend, it is to listen to that little voice. It's usually right. And even though this is our last night here, my voice is saying "GO NOW"
So I bolt to the R.V. and quickly alert Jack of the oncoming NorWester, grab some of A.J.s clothes, run up to the common house and leave them on the kitchen table with a goofy note. I can't find A.J. anywhere and it is zero hour. So I leave him what he needs for the night and make the executive decision to high tail the falcon down this mountain and leave A.J. to the Faeries. After all, he is one of them now.
I rush back to the R.V, and hit it. I'm dodging, weaving, breaking, flooring it through narrow tree ways and dirt roads down to a pasture and cows and it's almost pitch black. The high beams do what they can and staggering wind gusts are pushing us from the east. I feel like a real storm chaser. Jack's sitting shotgun a little nervous but I'm just looking to the stars, willing us ahead and getting us the heck out of here before the rain. We stop to take a picture of the last crack of daylight caving in ten miles back past the storm and the sanctuary. After two gates, three cattle guards, one gravel road, one dirt road, and seven miles we made it out and head to the closest gas station. Now let's hope we can find A.J. tomorrow morning with no phone reception. Let me take you back...
I'm driving the R.V. Seven miles from the road, on to one dirt road, a gravel road, through three cattle guards and two gates, weaving through cows and mud and collecting several tree branches on the roof before arriving at the base of Zuni Mountain Sanctuary. Thank the lord. It's a Saturday dusk after walking thirty six miles, but we are recharged from our triumphant exit from Arizona and happy to have the next two days off.
The past two weeks have been wearing, losing a crew member, staying in abandon gas stations, sketchy reservation truck stops, ghost towns with midnight tribal parades, dealing with stray dog packs and a St. Patricks day spent quietly over a few beers and a cards in the R.V. I did receive a noisy phone call from my friends at D.J. Reynolds, the best pub in New York, where I am known to celebrate my Irish most nights of the week. Or I guess I was known now...I think this was the first time I missed the city, that feeling again of missing what could be the greatest night in the world.
I drive up another ridge and we finally arrive at the end of the 'driveway' of the Zuni Mountain Sanctuary where a few cars are parked. We of course park next to a big white school bus painted with all sorts of quotes and patterns and flowers and the word "Zunique" in bold sparkly letters on the front matching the bold sparkly everything else. I think I found where Jesus Christ Superstar lives now...
A.J. and I walk another mile up a mud path and finally see huts and smoke burning from fireplaces silhouetted against a fading, royal, star ridden New Mexico sky. A man is walking towards us from the distance with his arms outstretched and long blonde hair draped over loosely worn flannel to his shoulders. He maintains this open posture for three minutes as we approach each other. He hugs us without question and says, "Welcome Home". He looks like Jesus. His name is Christian.
After showing us the land Christian introduces us to the rest of the Faeries in the common house where dinner is prepared. There's Tiny Bear who is short and shy and almost always shirtless and sitting in a corner somewhere. Nomi, who is robust and sweet and would be in the movie Braveheart if he wasn't a geologist by day and drag queen by night, also a fantastic cook. There's Amber who is the only one who identifies as female and wears dirty wrangler jeans and an oil soaked plain womens tank top, all the while spitting and swearing, nails crusted with motorcycle grease and the most masculine gritty faerie there could be with every inch of her screaming high school football coach, except for the whole wearing a dress thing. She's a sweetheart.
Of course there is Phoenix, the exuberant yes man who loves and lives in every moment and moment after that, a master of tarot and FaeFu, that's Faerie Kung Fu. It's a lot of fun I can assure you. If I didn't know better by the way Phoenix dressed, I would guess he's a rockstar, wearing pants sewn from an American Flag, a fired red tank top, layers of jewelry with the persona and room presence to match. I really thought he was just going to start singing when we met. As it is, he has no possessions and lives at the commune, a shaman and soon to be friend. Monk is a genuinely sweet soul, he likes to D.J. and wear skirts and bonnets and live a life of solitude and prayer, like a monk. Later in the weekend, I speak at length to him in the Tea House, where he lives, about my issues with technology and society, generation gaps and the government. I talk about the stuff I can't always put in to words yet and rarely bring up. He understood. And then Randy. Randy's dream is to combine solar power and other high tech green engineering techniques to living communities that would function off the land much like the caveman did, while using modern ingenuity to be cleaner and more efficient. I believe the government would call this an axis of terror. He is also a healer, a great big bear of a man and may have been in the movie Braveheart.
This community, these men, they are a lot to take in at first, but considering they are taking us in, I just say yes and try to see who they really are. I say yes to their way of life, to the one land line and computer, to the eco friendly man made outhouse, to the group meals and wacky outfits. I lived in New York, gays and capes and arts and spirits are no stranger to my everyday commute and psyche. Besides, it is the super moon tonight and the first day of spring and the world is shifting and the camp is actually on a continental divide. I'm in this amazing place, a piece of indescribable landscape and have the ability to live in brief sanctuary from the outside world. Welcome Home.
It's Sunday night, there's now fifteen people on the land including us. There is some sort of Faerie summit secret council committee meeting going on and I meet a whole new heard of utterly unique men throughout the day and got to know the ones living there a little better. The bonfire was uneventful and epic all at once. People came and went as they pleased, I stayed most of the time. It wasn't the party expected and the fire was way too big at first but when its roar eased and gently danced in the night and the flickering tips clashed in the moonlit sky, I came to a nice peace with the earth. It made me want to howl, so I did. Spring is here.
After a good nights sleep and an afternoon of lounging, I'm helping prepare a massive feast with and for the Faeries. Phoenix is whipping up the craziest batch of mashed potatoes I've ever seen, A.J. Is pretending to know how to chop garlic across from me and I'm adding more fresh vegetables to my Tomato Made Up Soup. Nomi made a garlic bread loaf that is almost gone thanks to those of us cooking and snacking for the past two hours and I snag another as I rush outside to check on the pork chops and sirloins I'm grilling. God do I love grilling.
Out of the giant front windows of Common House, the super moon rises for a second night, sucking out star viewing with its vast moonlight. The table is set, hands are held, announcements made, we thank and we pray, and then we chow down. That's how it's done. I counted how many people were actually sitting at the big wooden table eating and some scattered throughout the room. It's thirteen. Seriously. I'm looking around the room to find Da Vinci and see how the painting is going and I think this may very well be the last supper. I'm just praying someone bursts into song. But there is only love tonight, and after gullets were stuffed, a relaxing viewing of the movie 'Clue' on VHS two houses over in the T.V. room ensues. What happened to good physical comedy?
After the movie I wind up back in Common House sneaking a midnight snack which turns into playing cards into the wee hours with Phoenix and A.J. and that turns into the I-Ching and a tarot reading and my philosophy on 'What Does The Bear Do' and paper airplanes and talk and deep talk and telepathy games and funny stories and a riveting Fae Fu battle and more talk and I'm just happy to feel like I'm at a place that I can get all of this off my chest. Its like acting school with no rules and we are all the teacher. The whole time I have that voice, that judge trained in my head during these talks that says I'm crazy and so is anyone pretending to understand, that says I'm silly for thanking the moon and manifesting safety ahead. But before us, long before machines, civilizations talked this way.
Civilizations designed this way. They wrote epic poems and prayed to different Gods for every different blessing they received, even for something like rain. I usually buy an umbrella when it rains. Ive never lived where it doesn't. The egyptians designed their pyramids' geographical relationship to each other in exact architectural correlation with the constellation Orion. Why? They would tell you if they could but you'd never believe them. Now in America we put a starbucks in correlation to the highest traffic flow of a targeted demographic. Don't get me wrong, I like their Carmel thingys.
I just don't think we are very different than the history we haven't learned from. The times we misconstrue and forget or glorify and repeat. Jesus had big fun meals with his friends too, one of them just happened to be labeled the last. I'll tell you later how many gospels there actually are. Here at the sanctuary I see these people, I see the labels society would slap, must have slapped. I see the struggle. But I also listened to what they were saying, I heard the lessons shared in a voice older than myself or culture or society. I saw how they lived. I meditated on questions as old as time. I imagined other lives. I think of the world that I was taught and the world I am actually learning and I don't know what to think.
I guess this is the struggle. The divide between then and now, what we were and who we are, and when now becomes then every passing second, what do I do now? Thought is powerful, and it does exist. Trust me. One of thought's little nagging forms, Nostalgia, is a very tough cookie. It can lock us into a false sense of a way things were to judge how they are. A simpler time not so simple. Natural selection has allowed humans to naturally select what we want remembered. We tend to look back on life with anger or smiles, but rarely understanding. We tend to look back on history as radically different, arcane, a separate system as to how the world works now, but it wasn't so much. Because people are people, a good meal is a good meal, a fun game is a fun game, love is love and we haven't been around very long to change very much.
I say goodnight to A.J. And Phoenix and fall asleep to the winds blowing outside the R.V. and the rooster crowing. I think about the Divide. I think about the actual continental divide this land is on, the divide between man and beast, man and woman, gay and straight, right and wrong, citizen and outcast, society and chaos, good and evil, natural and unnatural, on the bus or off, divine or crazy. I think about all of the talk and connection I've gone through this weekend already on a soul level and I question its reality. I think about healing. I think I may actually be able to manifest my dreams, my wants. I think the images in my head can happen. I think that maybe this all could be real. Just maybe. But I want to know.
Look to see
Listen to hear
Breathe to smell
Feel to Touch
Savor to taste