Two of my favorite places…

… are on the Harlot’s current tour. And I couldn’t get to either of them to see her. *gnashing of teeth*

For years I lived south of Ann Arbor, and got up into the city every chance I could. It’s a lovely vibrant little university town, filled with good restaurants, excellent book shops, and some of the best coffee shops I’ve ever encountered. Crazy Wisdom is there, and there’s an Espresso Royale, which made the best coffee I’ve ever had. A large number of the streets are named for past presidents, and the regular joke was that we got around A2 navigating by ‘dead reckoning and dead presidents’.

Stephanie has also been in New Mexico, a state I love without qualification based on one single night spent driving across it in an 18 wheeler. I was 20, I was hitchhiking, there are a lot of stories there, but this is my favorite.

We were hauling a load of golf carts from Anaheim, CA to Dallas TX, to have their batteries recharged and it was a little past 1 am. The sky is amazing — the desert sky is always amazing, but tonight it’s a glory. Perhaps it’s just the contrast with the smog of Anaheim that morning.

Half of the windshield is filled with stars – the milky way is curling along overhead like a braid of smoke from some distant celestial fire. It’s as dark as only the desert at night can be, the truck’s highbeams are cutting a highway revealing gash in the night, and we start climbing. It’s not much of rise, just barely noticeable, until we hit the top of it.

We crest the rise, and the world changes. Suddenly there’s nothing in the windshield but stars and there is nothing in the headlights and it’s just an infinity of glittering lights in the black. For five, ten seconds maybe it’s just me and the universe, and then just as suddenly there’s the highway in the headlights again, and Pinky (who’s driving) says “There’s Las Cruces.”

The infinity of glittering lights resolves itself in one sentence into the lights of Las Cruces, New Mexico spilling across the horizon perfectly indistinguishable from the stars spilling across the heavens.

That moment is forever etched in my mind – it’s one of the ‘when I was hitchiking’ stories I pull out for company and family reunions, and the ‘what I love about New Mexico’ story I can trot out when NM comes up in conversation. And it does make a good yarn.

It’s also one of those stories that you never quite get right, an attempt to talk about an experience that is beyond words. I will tell this story until I die, a thousand times over to a thousand people, and not once will I ever be able to accurately catch in language that one moment on that one night.

I do love trying though.


4 thoughts on “Two of my favorite places…

  1. Pingback: Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You » Payback

  2. That’s beautifully written Anna. I have driven through New Mexico and number of times in my life and each time it gets ahold of me in one magical way or another. Nicely done.


  3. What a great description of coming over the rise and seeing LC. I presume you were on I-10. Another staggering experience is going over the Organ Mountains at the St. Augustin pass via Route 70.

    I have a picture of the full moon over that pass which you might enjoy…As a New Jerseyan who moved here about 9 years ago, the first time I came over the pass and saw LC, I was stunned. (via Route 70). But, I was stunned the whole time I first drove through NM down from 40 and over the Mescalero pass and saw the first fingers of White Sands…Not to mention the mountain formations, some like a sleeping giant.

    You might like these pieces I wrote…

    The Other Side of the Mountain, with some wonderful pictures…,

    and this one with a snow picture of the Organ peaks…

    These Gray Days of December

    ENJOY!!! And come back for a visit sometime!!

  4. I used to live in NM and it was always a place of wonder. The skies were so amazing – almost like a painter palette. Beautiful writing of an enchanting state! I later moved to Maine and it was another extremely beautiful place with a totally different geography.

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