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Sante Fe: Saturday (Part 3)

May 31, 2016

I got up before him and took a shower. After drying my hair, I prodded him, “I’ll be ready in 5 minutes. Let’s go.” As I was gathering my things I realized I hadn’t taken my medicine. “Oh, Shit.” I said aloud. “I almost forgot something important.” I pulled out my little $1 travel pill box and pulled out a Wellbutrin and a new one my doctor recommended. I had mentioned daily medication to him before but I hadn’t quite broached the depression subject yet. I didn’t think we knew each other enough yet. He asked again what the medication was for. “We can talk about that later,” I said. It’s always a difficult subject to discuss. You don’t know how someone will react. Will they understand the true nature of the disease? Will they judge you? He threw out the guess, “Antidepressants?”

“Bingo.” I said.

“You should meditate,” he said as I put my shoes on.

“Would you tell someone with asthma they should meditate?” I asked.

“It’s not that I’m sad or have a character flaw. It’s like any other disease. The chemicals in my brain are out of balance and I take medication to keep them balanced.”

I think he actually got it because later in the day he referenced by depression as an example of something that just is, not something that a person can control.

When I thought about this revelation later in the trip…..when he revealed how anxious he had been…..I wondered how much worse I had made his anxiety by suddenly revealing that the “stranger” he was on a road trip with was on anti-depressants. I found this amusing.

We headed to Sante Fe’s old town and found a cute little bistro for breakfast. We had an amazing smothered burrito, coffee and chai.

So far, we were navigating the travel-buddy-friends-who-also-have-sex thing fairly well. We still had chemistry. We were nice to each other, we laughed. It was easy. But we didn’t hold hands or behave like people who might be in love. It was working.

We decided to go to Bandelier National Park. With Siri’s help we drove northwest. As we came over a hill, the landscape opened up before us. I took a breath. “My God,” I said. “It’s so beautiful.” Mountains and hills lay before us on an endless landscape. My Louisiana eyes weren’t used to being able to see so far. The muted colors; beige and pink and orange red against the sage and silver grass. I had never seen anything like it. I stared out of the window in awe. I tried to decide if it was more beautiful than the Hawaiian landscape. They were so different. I thought I liked this better. I snapped pictures as Mr. Houston drove.

Back in Houston, he had proudly shown me two folding chairs that he bought for $6. “We can bring them,” he said.

“What will we do with chairs?” I asked. I had never considered bringing chairs when I traveled.

“We can use them to sit and enjoy things,” he said.

“Uh, ok.” I had no idea what he meant.

On our way to Bandelier , Mr. Houston, who, by the way is the worst driver ever!….spontaneously pulled into a solitary gas station. “Let’s get some beer,” he said. He put gas in the car and picked out a large can of beer. “Let’s take the chairs out and sit and enjoy the view,” he said.

“Ok!” I said and helped him carry the pink chairs to the edge of the parking lot, overlooking sage, rocks and hills. “Now you see why we brought the chairs?” he asked.

“Yeah, I do.” I said. We sat and drank a little. I took pictures of him. We were in no hurry with no plan or agenda except to go to this national park.

Somewhere along the way, he admitted that he became anxious when we didn’t have cell coverage. That fear of…. What if I don’t really know this person? What if she behaves badly?…..was in the back of his mind. I found it odd that he both had this fear and easily revealed it to me. Mr. Houston doesn’t hide his analysis. He brings you in on the doubt he’s feeling even when it’s about you. I couldn’t decide if this was a good trait or not.

When we reached the visitor’s center, we realized that we had to take a shuttle to the mountain. As we rode along in the bus filled with tourist, going higher and higher on winding roads, I teased him, “Wow, Mr. Houston, we’re really going deep in the mountains, now.” He laughed.

The hike was really fun. Mr. Houston was easy and fun to be with. He carried my camera bag and indulged my lens changing requests. He began to serve as art director pointing out photo opportunities and making numerous requests for shots of him. He picked on the other tourists, calling an Indian family, “my people.” When we saw a young girl sitting by herself, Mr. Houston mocked her likely teenage angst. “Oh, I’m going to sit by myself and be moody,” he said and laughed. When she finally joined her group, we were walking opposite of her and he said out loud, “Oh, look at me. I’m better now. I’m going to find my family,” in a little girl voice.

“Are you making fun of that girl right in front of her?” I asked, laughing.

He kept going off the trail and I fussed at him and tried to make him follow the rules. “You’ll destroy the natural environment,” I scolded.

“Oh, like one step is going to destroy this rock,” he returned. “No, but if you’re one of thousands who do it, it will change it.” He scoffed. By the end of the hike, I was joining him off the path a few times.

We saw the ancient pueblos and marveled at the rocky landscape and generally had a nice time.

Mr. Houston was a strange combination of confidence….dipping into arrogance…..and anxiety that he hid and dealt with very well. He also had a habit of being very present one moment, enjoying what he was seeing and doing with full attention and then being equally distracted and borderline rude by picking up his phone to play. He lamented the lack of tinder matches he got. I didn’t understand why he was bothering with the app at all. What would he do? Meet someone? Ask them to join us? “It’s just a game,” he admitted. I didn’t get it but it was just part of a puzzle that was forming that might show me the whole of Mr. Houston.

I’m sure I was just as much a puzzle to him and that night, I threw a weird piece at him that threatened to ruin the whole weekend.





From → Rantings

  1. Did I miss Sante Fe Parts 1 and 2?

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