Home, a place with a lot of tumbleweeds and trailer houses.
In 1984, my parents bought a mobile home and put it on a piece of land out on the mesa in front of the Manzano Mountains. At the time, the nearest neighbor was a mile away and my parents thought it was glorious. Unfortunately the nearest phone was also a mile away. I saw nothing glorious about that.
We lived far from everything. Far from the mall, far from my school, far from my friends, and especially far from Albuquerque – which is where all the cool kids were.
Valencia county was generally unconcerned with maintaining the dirt roads so during monsoon season we would go without mail service for weeks at a time, we also had to make our own path through the desert to come and go because our road would be underwater.
Still, my parents were enchanted with this place. “It’s so quiet”, they would brag to their friends. “There’s no light pollution and we can see all the stars“, they would say while setting up their telescope.
Fuck that, I want cable TV.
They had purchased five acres of land and split it into two 2.5 acre lots. My deadbeat aunt and uncle moved into their own mobile home next door. They made zero payments on the trailer or to my parents for their land lease. In the meantime, they did manage to erect an impressive chain-link fence, raise some malamutes, and sell some drugs.
They got the boot.
Later on, my other deadbeat aunt moved her own mobile home onto that side of the land. She was a depressed hoarder with trash piled up to the windows and she too failed to make any payments. When my step-dad found the cages of dead birds in her living room, she was next to get the boot.
As I was going through my teenage years, this “glorious” place in the middle of nowhere turned into something else entirely. Imagine being stranded on a desert island with two people in a relationship that is going south.
As my parents grew to like each other less, the silence became a void filled mostly with the sounds of slamming doors and never-ending passive aggressive standoffs. Sufficed to say, the glory was starting to wear off.
When I was 19, the universe told me it was time to move to Las Vegas, NV. Six weeks prior to my departure, the parental situation came to head and my step-dad told my mom to get the fuck out, which she did.
But not me, I still lived there, playing marriage counselor to both of them right up until the last day.
But when I left, I left.
That was in 1995. I had no plans of going home again.
Fast forward 21 years.
My step dad still lives on the land only now he’s married to my ex-sister-in-law. Wait, what? He married my ex-husband’s oldest sister. I know… you can’t make this shit up.
After a couple years of living in Easterville, Xavier and I have decided to move back to New Mexico so I took him there for a visit earlier this year. We were planning on moving to Albuquerque, of course, because that’s where the cool kids are but I still took him down to Los Lunas to show him around. I took him out to visit my stepdad on the land where I grew up and I had assumed that he would be horrified by the place.
We have a dream of flying light, of living with low overhead and never being stressed about money, of having more freedom and less worry.
We’ve done countless hours of research on the virtues of manufactured homes.
We’ve stood hand in hand on the beach at midnight and gazed deep into the milkyway while baby ghost crabs ran over our feet and the dark ocean tide was heard but not seen.
We live in an apartment in the city now and one thing’s for sure. The rent never goes down. Constant road noise, constant alarms going off and sirens running up and down the street all hours of the day and night. Most of all, constant neighbors in every direction. Light pollution mucks up the night sky and we might see a star or two but only the biggest and brightest make it through the haze.
We talk about that night by the ocean and looking out into forever.
The desert is an ocean with it’s life underground.
And maybe it was time to reconsider this idea of going home.
Nothing but a broke down fence and a pile of trash live on the other side of the land now. More neighbors have moved in but they are still a civilized distance away and at night, the sky opens up in a concert of stars like no one living on the east coast has ever seen.
I never wanted to go back because I thought the life I had lived there could only repeat itself.
But now, I long for the quiet and for the stars. I can see a future there that is different from my past.
At age 41, I didn’t expect to discover that everything I wanted was in the place where I began, the place that I couldn’t get away from fast enough, but time is the great revelator after all and every prophet is in her house.
As it turns out, I want to go home again.