In the middle of the night I tossed my belongings into my suitcase and before dawn, dashed out into the still, silent Mexican night before I had a chance to change my mind. I quickly marched through sleeping barrios with the loud clack-clacking of the cases wheels causing the occasional dog to bark. I wasn’t worried about attracting roaming thieves or the chance of encountering a trigger happy drunk cartel, I kept my eye out for the police patrols. As a fact, I reached the border without incident and was amazed that the customs kiosks were void of anyone. I was certain it would be clogged with early morning commuters even at five in the morning. The officer scanned my passport and asked weary eyed what was in the suitcase. I nonchalantly shrugged and mumbled, “Stuff.” He simply waved me through.
I sat in a Burger King on the corner of Paisano and El Paso Street munching on a greasy sausage and egg sandwich contemplating what the fuck was I going to do. The rational thing was to return to my apartment, unpack, and pay rent the following day. But, I had grown weary of Juárez. That old bitch had not been kind the year I resided there and my gut instinct told me it was time to lay tracks. Under the steady glare of the lone old pervert who shared the lobby with me, I made the decision to head to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had pondered the location for quite some time as my final destination for my ‘retirement’. I have grown weary of the life I lead and secretly desired a tranquil existence to simply write and live out my remaining years in relative peace. If that makes any sense. I was originally going to return to Tijuana, but I have changed (as I am certain Tijuana) so much over the last few years. I seriously do not think I could take living there again, mentally and physically. No more adventures.
On that note, I made my way to the Greyhound station and booked a bus to New Mexico. Luckily there was a coach leaving at 9:25 that morning. As I stood at the boarding gate chatting with an overweight and feminine ex-correctional officer heading to Albuquerque, my mind raced with the loathsome memories and letdowns of the past year. All my friends of this town and south of the border – any whom I cared to associate with – had left to better locales…Austin, San Francisco, Paris, Mexico City. The only ones remaining were the ignorant fucks who lacked any drive for betterment. They remained, bitter and self-loathing in their lot. I certainly did not want to become like that and I found myself slowly doing so.
The bus ride was uneventful and pleasant. I sat listening to be-bop jazz as vast southwest prairies dotted with sage brush and the occasional biscuit colored butte drifted past my view. Small towns of rusting cars and squat adobe buildings lined with barbed wire fences, great orchards of grapes, walnuts, chilies, garbage…we headed up into Northern New Mexico. An old Native American, stooped and weathered wearing a large brimmed black hat slowly watches the bus roar by. He spits tobacco onto the yellow, gravelly terrain.
We come to the teeming metropolis of Albuquerque where I debark and dash out to take a train toward my final destination. I find out with dismay that the next arriving coach was in four hours, so as many others around me, I shuffled about the vast station, chain smoking and silent, listening down to myself. On a steel bench, I pass some time chatting with a bitter old fuck from Australia, but he bored me quick with his bleating negative balderdash and I simply meandered away.
Eventually, the Rail Runner train arrived and I sat in a comfortable seat. North, up through Indian villages and reservations and rotting farms of rolling hills and crumbling mesas, I arrived at the station in Santa Fe in late afternoon an hour before the sun set casting the southwestern town in fiery amber. I wandered and took a room at a nearby hotel. Excited and someone racing with maddening anxieties, I went downtown and ate a delicious steak dinner at the Plaza Café. Afterwards, as I stood on the corner in the chilled evening, I was accosted a huge drunken Indian mooching for smokes. This blue jeaned titan gives me a bear hug when I hand over two requested cigarettes. Lifting me off my feet, he yells, “Welcome to Santa Fe!” and then staggers off into the night to fight off phantoms of cowboys long dead. A ver…
Indeed, I am here. And to acquire the things that I need, it will mean I will be forced to go underground. They have a shelter here where I will reside as I apply and wait for housing to kick in. Well, that’s the plan, anyway as vague and by the seat of the pants as it may be. But, at this moment, this is where I make my stand…this is where I will make my final home.