Eleven years ago this month I moved to this area. This is, by far, the longest I have ever lived anywhere. I moved here because, like so many others, I came here on vacation and fell in love.
Within months I had a job and had moved, since then I've had the best times of my life, and the worst. Recently it's seemed like the bad times have out weighed the good, and I've often thought of leaving, getting a fresh start somewhere new. There's something so seductive about that clean slate.
But my kids have grown up here, and I've grown here. The best job I've ever had, working with the best friends I've ever had, is here. It is just gorgeous here, but I still take it for granted, as we all do after a while. Usually all it takes is the shortest hike, or mountain bike ride, or sometimes just the drive into town, to remind me why I came, why I stayed.
But I still wonder. How would things be had I left? Had I never come? As in any long-term relationship I find myself taking her for granted, something I know to be deadly. I find myself not looking around on the way to work, not noticing the way she's draped in fog, not appreciating the sunrise my schedule requires me to witness almost every day, not making the time to walk the dog. Then she does something to make me appreciate her again, and suddenly I don't want to be anywhere else.
Saturday I finally made it to the farmer's market in Capitan, after a full summer of good intentions. Capitan (for those who don't know) is about 20 miles north of Ruidoso, and just one hell of a pretty drive. On the way another favorite old flame pulled out in front of me and immediately the old "what if" record started skipping in my head(second guessing my own life is, if not one of my favorite passtimes, the one that I'm best at). She soon turned off and I finshed the the trip singing along to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack (shut up, you're gay).
By the time I got to Capitan, I was a melancholic. Then, to make things worse, it appeared that there was no farmer's market. I had been told it was impossible to miss, but somehow I didn't immediately see it. Had it closed early for the season? Then I found it, the market is tucked into a small vacant lot across from the Smokey Bear Memorial.
As I got out of my car I heard a curious combination of accoustic Johnny Cash and electronic drum machine. They came from a man at the front entrance who, with the right combination of lighting and blood alcohol level, could have passed for the Man himself. I stopped, listened, and realized that he was damned good. He smiled at me, I felt welcomed, and I found that I was smiling back.
Entering the market, I was immediately enchanted, there was not a bar scanner in sight, and not a person seemed sorry to be present. A short time later I not only had bought locally produced bread, spinach, green beans, tomatoes, blackberries, Swiss chard, and (holy shit!) raw milk feta and cheddar cheeses, but had met some really interesting people. Producers of food who were proud of their products and happy to talk about them; even willing to give directions to their farms so that I could see where my food had come from.
On the way into work that morning I realized that my old flame had done it again. Just when I was starting to drift she had dazzled me with nothing more than a new summer dress and a smile. I rolled the windows down, cranked up Ewan and Nichole, and daydreamed about the meal I would soon be sharing with my friends.