Land of Enchantment: Coming of Political Age in New Mexico

Continuing the tale of New-Mexico-Love after the epiphany in Valley of the Fires. For the next two years, I lived on Holloman AFB with my Air Force husband and two grade-school rabble-rousers. Our sons insisted on letting their white-blonde hair grow long, only gradually realizing the disadvantages. While that long hair did establish their independence from standard military fashion, they were apparently the only two little boys living on the base with long hair so when the little mini-gang of neighborhood friends struck their dad would inevitably get a call from base security.

 By now I had discovered politics…well actually that particular epiphany happened previously while listening to JFK’s inaugural address followed by an interest in Minnesota’s Eugene McCarthy and living through the three assassinations.  But I hadn’t done anything yet and now seemed like the right time. Women’s Lib was in the air—the concept of strong women taking charge, working their collective asses off, and being smarter and more determined than the men around them was not new to me. My conservative Christian farmer mom would not have admitted it for the world but she had all of those “Lib” qualities…another story.

 My Holloman Air Force wife years were consumed with commuting to Las Cruces to finish up an undergraduate degree in education (minor in History) at NMSU. I was listening, with car and house windows wide open and the music up loud, to Helen Reddy’s

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore

And I know too much to go back an’ pretend  

 ‘Cause I’ve heard it all before

And I’ve been down there on the floor

No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

and Judy Collin’s “Marat Sade”

Fighting all the gentry and fighting every priest

The business man the bourgeois the military beast

Marat always ready to stifle every scheme

Of the sons of the ass licking dying regime

 I suppose you could say I had attitude.

 I was studying history, thinking politics and wearing my husband’s camouflage jacket to NMSU’s pathetic little peace rallies. My teaching supervisor and I drove to El Paso to hear Gloria Steinem and a woman traveling with her (who gave the opening address and said f*ck more in one sentence than Anthony Bourdain can manage 40 years later. I hung out on the freaks side of the student union; once some kids from the cowboys’ side beat up one of my friends. We drank gallons of coffee, smoke cartons of cigarettes, and talked volumes of political truths!  This was heady stuff for an air force wife from rural Minnesota—all happening in my new state of New Mexico.

 So…me and New Mexico. Loved it during those years. I student taught in the underwhelming little town of Alamogordo, drove up into the Sacramento Mountains to Ruidoso or down to Juarez on day trips, and especially loved the drive to school through White Sands Missile Range. Early morning New Mexico, empty roads, think/ plan/muse/dream, sometimes halted for awhile so a rocket could be launched. Occasionally my friend, also from the base, rode down with me—the friend who was having an affair with my husband on weekends while I was studying—obviously she was a quicker study than I! Oh well.

 Obviously politics was of growing interest and New Mexico was a good place to get started down that particular long and twisty road. Such a sparsely populated state, you really could get to know the cast of characters pretty easily. At this stage it was mostly through the media but before long I would get to know them—well the Democratic them—more intimately. 

08-27-2009 CM Scaffolding and Various Operations

NASA photo of White Sands Missile Range.

National Park photo of White Sands National Monument.

National Park photo of White Sands National Monument.

National Park photo of White Sands National Monument.

National Park photo of White Sands National Monument.

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About mneset

Writer, Traveler, Director/North Fourth Art Center

Posted on June 28, 2013, in Living LIFE and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Marjorie, you nailed it with this one. I “felt” so good to read this. It was a nice feeling because I am getting to know more about you, Perhaps you told me about this one morning about 2am at the Hilton Hotel in Albuquerque. Looking for a way to balance the audit. Your story about relatives in Montana or Wyoming had such a wonderful feel as well. Hope that at some point you will find a way to string your stories together, I would like to sit down and have a good read. Thanks for this one

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    • Good Afternoon. I cannot imagine what you’re feeling right now. This is it isn’t it. I’m sad too. I loved sitting around with you in what I thought was a lovely and interesting shop. And going across the street for … wow, I forgot the name of my favorite Delaware food…no, I remember now. Scrapple right…or is that the word game and we eat scrabble with our eggs. You know, it really is hell to get old. SO I AM HOPING YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING A LITTLE SPECIAL THIS WEEKEND. At least that there’s a glass of champagne in there somewhere, Congratulating yourself for a job well done and well-ended.

      So you don’t have to worry about anything you say about stuff I write. Actually, I quite welcome comments good and bad. And while I’m determined to conquer one small corner of cyberspace I’m afraid I’m getting close to the end of my abilities with these damn blogs.

      Hey, and thanks for reading them… I really love to get your comments. Like a chatty ongoing dialogue that seems to work better than email.

      SO HAVE A VERY VERY WONDERFUL WEEKEND…YOU DONE GOOD MY FRIEND!

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