February 15, 2010
My butt is cold.
That’s probably not the classiest way to start a blog, but it’s what I’m thinking as I sit on this ancient metal lawn chair in front of a motel I probably shouldn’t have bought, watching the tumbleweeds struggle to free themselves from the barbed-wire fence across the highway and waiting in the brittle night air to see whether the coyotes will serenade me again like they did last night.
I’m told that tumbleweeds are not native to New Mexico, but you’d never know it to look at them all bunched up against the fence by the hundreds, shivering in the cold breeze, which for God alone knows what reason has decided to buck tradition and blow in from the east tonight.
The tumbleweeds are as much a part of the scenery as their namesake motel, which is also a latecomer to this ancient land.
It occurs to me that I am a tumbleweed, blown in from the east, caught on the fence of a life that doesn’t yet feel like my own.
I don’t think I would have had the nerve to buy this place if the road hadn’t been here, holding the promise of an escape route to other lives should this one prove unsuitable. I’m still not sure why I thought this was a good idea — one too many cups of Miss Shirley’s Irish coffee, perhaps, or one too many fiery sunsets over Sangre Mesa? Maybe I was just bored, though I can’t imagine anyone in her right mind looking at Coldwater, N.M. — population 258 and falling — and thinking, “Eureka! I’ve just found the perfect cure for ennui!”
Whatever the reason, as of 11:38 this morning, I am the proud owner of the historic Tumbleweed Motel, which currently consists of five rooms (three of which are more or less fit for human habitation), an office, a functional wringer washer, a pair of rusty clothesline poles, and a developmentally disabled handyman who calls me “Sissy” and walks two miles to the truck stop next to the interstate off-ramp every morning to buy canned tuna for the feral cats that skulk around the edges of the property.
Yes: I am a tumbleweed caught in a fence. But it’s a fence that feels oddly right, and as I sit here on my own property next to Route 66, with my freezing butt and my freezing fingers and my slow dialup connection, waiting for a visit from unseen coyotes, I think maybe it won’t be long before I set down roots and become chaparral.