When Charlie and I travel, we see the both the good and the not so good. New Mexico is one of our favorite states, if not our very favorite, especially the northern section around Taos, Chama, Cimarron, basically anywhere along Hwy 64.
This is also an area populated by various Native American reservations, and these towns have not been treated kindly by the passage of time. Unemployment is high; if you don’t have the good fortune of being employed by one of the casinos, the closest steady work is in the construction field, but that is usually many hours away across the border in Colorado.
But it is also a land of dreams. Most people know what a dreamcatcher is, those spiderweb looking decorations hanging from the rear view mirrors of 1980’s pick up trucks,but many don’t what it signifies. It was originally a sacred totem woven by a mother to be placed over an infant’s bed to capture only the good dreams, filtering them down the hanging feathers to the sleeper below. Eventually, the original meaning was lost, and the dreamcatcher became just another cheesy decoration sold in truck stop gift shops along I-40.
Not so in Farmington, NM, where the need for dreams is a reality.
On a trip through the area last spring, we stopped for supplies. Charlie was intrigued by something on the ground, so naturally I had to see what the crazy girl was into. It was a dreamcatcher; not a pretty little trinket made in a Asian sweatshop, but a large, crude object made of bent sticks and rope. This obviously was not merely decoration, but was crafted by someone with little skill and possible addiction, but desperately in need of a dream. The owner of the outpost was Jicarillan Apache and confirmed that this was the case, as hope has largely left these lands.
As it had clearly been discarded, he saw nothing improper about me strapping it to the back of Charlie’s chariot and bringing it back to Arkansas. It now hangs at the Casa del Whackos in honor of that faceless soul somewhere out on the reservation in the hope that they have found their dream.
Since Charlie and I met almost five years ago, our dream has been to spend extended time on the bike crossing the country, paying homage to the forgotten places and people we encounter on this page. But responsibilities can often smother the dream, or at least force it into remission, and corporate America is the blanket that would do the smothering.
The modus operandi of this culture seems to be “the floggings will continue until morale improves”.
But the dream hasn’t died. When my day of emancipation occurred back in April and I was cast onto the scrapheap of the unemployed, it was if a hobnailed boot was lifted off of my neck. No prospects, no plan, and I didn’t care; it would work out. Things have a chance to “come to you” inside the roaring solitude of a motorcycle helmet, and while crossing the Cascades on our trip to and from the west coast, it came to me, clear as the chiming of a Tibetan prayer bell: “relax, and let it come to you”.
Well, it came to me all right; a broken leg in Colorado, then a broken collarbone a few weeks later back in Arkansas ensured that I had little choice but to relax, recover, and watch our meager savings trickle away to nothing; even the motorcycles are on the chopping block, but no takers there just yet, as it’s the wrong time of the year. Make no doubt about, scraping the bottom of the barrel is an understatement.
Then I got a phone call from a kindred spirit from my days back in the corporate world; her husband was starting a new business, and had enrolled me in a certification class. I actually had no idea what kind of business she was talking about, but here it was, coming to me as promised; how could I say no?
I believe that angels aren’t necessarily winged beings flitting around playing harps, but are sometimes actual people placed on our path when the path seems to have vanished. So, due to the grace of God, the beneficence of others, and the foot of JoAnn placed firmly and repeatedly in my buttocks, I passed all of the exams on the first attempt and as of next Friday, will be a ASHI licensed Home Inspector. This is a career that three months ago didn’t even know existed, but had been performing a variation of for the previous twenty-five years in another industry; this is just a new direction.
So what of the original dream of travelling with Charlie? Oh, it’s still there; I can’t even see a picture of the Rocky Mountains or of the outback of Utah without my palms getting sweaty and my heart starts banging like a screen door in a hurricane. Because it’s the travel that keeps this story alive. But now it will be possible; working to live, not living to work…
Hey, Charlie! Wanna go?