August 9th, 2007
Monday I was teaching when I received the following text message from Matt:
I had a Priceline accident. We are staying tonight at the Inn at the Loretto.
A Priceline accident? I've heard of car accidents, skiing accidents, and I, myself, have had a sledding accident. But a Priceline accident? That is a new one. It was our anniversary, however, and besides planning to go to Santa Fe for dinner, we had not done much for the occasion. I even forgot to buy a card this year. Perhaps a celebration was in order. This was our thirteenth–a baker's dozen–and also significantly, the fourth anniversary since we moved to Albuquerque. As we have never lived any place so long, that was on our minds even more than our wedding anniversary. And so, quickly we rescheduled the afternoon and next morning and headed up I-25 to Santa Fe.
The Inn at the Loretto is a four-star hotel and spa connected to the famous Loretto Chapel where the miracle of the mysterious staircase took place. So the story goes, the chapel was finished in 1878 without a staircase to the choir loft. The nuns began praying to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, and nine days later, a man appeared with a toolbox, and built a stunning spiral staircase with no central support system. Upon finishing the staircase, the man vanished, never to be seen from again.
The hotel itself is one of those we-could-only-be-in-Santa Fe kind of buildings, adobe with rounded corners, vigas jutting out from every wall, beamed ceilings. Even though we were only an hour north, Santa Fe sits at 7000 feet–a difference in altitude of 2000 feet, which makes it cooler and more temperate in the summers. It was overcast and delightfully cool, so after checking in we went for a walk along Canyon Road. It was deserted, the galleries closed, so we meandered slowly, walking down the middle of the old, narrow road and gazing into gallery windows and gardens. Back at the hotel, we changed clothes, had a drink in the bar, and went to dinner at Café Pasqual's, our favorite Santa Fe restaurant. Over dinner and a bottle of red wine, we marveled at the fact that it was a Monday night, we were a mere hour from home, and even after only a short time, we felt like we were on vacation. The idea that we could escape with no less fuss than a minor Priceline accident is something to remember. Too often, I forget that escapes are really psychological, not geographical, and that an evening in a beautiful old hotel on the Santa Fe plaza, with a balcony overlooking the mountains, is enough. Is more than enough.
As I write this, I am in the beginning my summer break in teaching before the fall semester is upon me. I have a big gig next week that requires several hours a day of practicing, but other than that my time is my own. For once I am contacting friends and saying, "Want to meet for coffee? I can meet whenever." Whenever. What a wonderful, expansive word. Of course, my dream list is long for these two short weeks: I want to garden, read all the Harry Potter books, do a lot of yoga, write, and get my house, music, and teaching organized after months of burying myself under projects and work. I need to not produce or be creative for a few days, but simply to dig and sort myself out. I have to discover what is in those piles on my desk I keep making. I must figure out to do with all my half-done essays, half-learned music, half-completed knitting projects. I want to finally get to some business details that I have been too busy to manage. Of course, the time will go too quickly. Even last night I found myself saying, "It's six o'clock already!. I still have 500 hundred things I want to do today." "Can you let it go?" Matt gently prods me. Thirteen years later, I am still trying to conquer the world with every day. He has great practice–and patience–in watching me stumble and fail regularly. Really, the question I need to practice asking is not, what could I do today? but what could I not do today?
Next weekend we leave for a few days in Durango–our last hurrah for the summer. There is still time to eat more corn on the cob, watermelon, and peaches and to drink my fill of lemonade and iced tea. My roses are gearing up for another round of glorious blooms. Monsoon season is nearly behind us. There is still time, I practice saying. There is still time.