Editor’s note: This article was originally published on www.YourLifeIsATrip.com, a group blog featuring experiential storytelling and first-person travel narratives.
I had lived in Santa Fe for 23 years before it occurred to me to offer to move back to Las Vegas, where I was raised, to help out my mom.
My brother had been doing the honors (living with her, in her beautiful red-brick Victorian we were raised in) for a year, and I thought I’d offer to relieve him. My mom couldn’t believe my offer, recalling that a year earlier, when she had asked me if I’d like to move over there, I had responded “I’d rather slit my wrists.”
My suicidal reluctance had been due to my attitude that Santa Fe was fascinating, culturally alive, hip, filled with beautiful, interesting people and romantic prospects, whereas Las Vegas (population 15,000) was insular, uninteresting, provincial, stagnant.
As I was cleaning up to move out of the place I was living in, my ever-active songwriting mind was generating a beautiful tribute song about Las Vegas, my hometown, perhaps as a coping mechanism, a reflection of my deeper excitement about moving back there despite my well-developed bad attitudes about the place.
Now, a little over six months later, I am able to see more clearly what a tremendous transition was involved in moving back — and in gradually overcoming the horrible attitudes I had developed about my dear little old hometown.
Going to shop at Walmart, as I was often requested to do, was grueling.
Not only was the store unfamiliar (and also evil, in my political theology), but the shoppers looked bizarre, primitive, a projection of everything I feared and disliked. The whole transition was exhausting and wearing. (Though helping out my mom is, in truth, nothing too complicated or difficult — and she’s a warm, funny person with whom it’s very easy to get along).
What a difference a few months make. When I went up to the local radio station one morning for the “back fence” forum, a free-for-all for whoever wants to show up, it seemed everyone was there to talk about some local initiative for education, local agriculture, child care, the farmer’s market, and so on. It strikes me that this is as progressive a town as the famously liberal Santa Fe! Perhaps this is going on everywhere and I just wasn’t aware of it.
The local newspaper is thin, and only appears thrice-weekly, but the editor and the lead columnist write extremely thoughtful, interesting, wide-ranging pieces. The letters to the editor are also thoughtful and articulate. I take a yoga class once a week from among the many “alternative” exercise and healing choices. There are things I haven’t even gotten around to, like weekly swing and Latin dance gatherings at the university.
I listen to a country “oldies” station, something I wasn’t able to get in Santa Fe, and it has stimulated a tremendous songwriting streak for me. (Or perhaps it’s just my gift to myself for “doing the right thing.”) I see much more of my family, who are always cycling through the house from near and far, including a couple new babies who have joined the tribe recently. I feel much more connected to neighbors and the neighborhood than I did in Santa Fe.
People are real, interesting and attractive (now that I’ve stopped imagining them otherwise). I can take beautiful hikes close to town, and get amazing photos everywhere — like a miraculous series of dragonfly close-ups.
Every shop on my itinerary, including the health food store and the pharmacy, is no more than a five-minute walk away. And the dreaded Walmart ended up inspiring one of my most financially rewarding songs ever.
And now, returning to Santa Fe, going into the Trader Joe’s as I used to do every day in order to shop and socialize, seems a little bit bizarre to me. The little old hometown has once again become the norm — and it only took six months!
Jim Terr is a songwriter, singer, actor and video producer; his website is www.JimTerr.com and his songs and videos about Las Vegas are searchable on YouTube. He may be reached at email@example.com.