I performed a Macedonian song with College of Santa Fe/SFUAD faculty and alumni at the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe Monday night. The gorgeous scenery of the auditorium made me vaguely feel like I was in a production of a Midsummer Night's Dream in the 1920s.
It was a surreal dream with heavenly acoustics. It felt like it had been a long time since I'd seen or performed in a genuinely delightful concert. The musical quality of the ensembles at what is now called the Santa Fe University of Art and Design would never lead you to believe that the Contemporary Music Program (CMP) once endured a near-death experience....
But none of that for now.
In the CMP ritual that often follows any kind of performance, we head to one of the Second Street Breweries, and shoot-the-shit. There is an art to shooting-the-shit with people, just like there is an art to drinking and smoking. Musicians are especially good at these each of these arts, but I hate to generalize.
After midnight I started to bike across town to a house and dog I am sitting for. I was wearing an unusually long and glorious skirt, which was quickly demystified by the gears of my old peugeot and my own carelessness. "Thank god for leggings," is all I have to say. I walked my inoperable bike up the back roads of South Capitol, safely arrived at my apartment, changed my clothes, and pulled the remaining shreds of demystified skirt out of my bike gears.
I rode across town in the dark after midnight. I rode on the pedestrian-only bike trails which are simultaneously invigorating, terrifying, and contemplative at night. The lack of street lighting helped me see star after star shoot across the sky. "Great," I thought. "I'm not going to die."
It's hard to be a free women without a car in Santa Fe. When you first come here, someone, or many people, will inevitably warn you never to walk alone at night. Once you break that rule, it's a slippery slope. You don't want to be limited by the supposedly reasonable fears you're told to have as a woman. Biking may be a different story from walking, but in the 5 years I've lived here, Santa Fe has seen serial rapists who may or may not have been caught, murder, stabbings, burglaries, muggings, gang violence, and more. Someone told me before I left the music-people-gathering that some guy in the neighborhood we were in was attacked and mugged by 6 men the night before. That's not exactly a confidence-inspiring statement to start a journey with, but what can you do but just swallow your fears if you're exclusively a cyclist who lives for the evening hours?
The bike trail cuts through the central Santa Fe neighborhood I walked the other day. The haunting images of gang tags all over houses, an unused playground, and, um, the bike trail were certainly on my mind, as they usually are when I ride that path. But I don't want to live by the racist and classist hyped up fears of irrevocably dangerous community bestowed upon us by the likes of tabloids and the nightly local news.
I know that these frightening problems are real-- hell I've seen the friends of the 18 year-old who was shot on Hopewell St. in 2009 cry and rap in memory of him, and I lived in a house of all women the summer that the most well-publicized serial rapist was on the prowl-- but I'm of the mind that the only thing I can do is try to do what I want to, and try to keep my values and integrity intact in the process. It may be harder and occasionally more horrifying to bike at midnight down empty trails, or down a six-lane road at midday in the Winter time, or during a hailstorm, but it's usually worth it for me.
Or perhaps I'm rationalizing. It's difficult to know. Regardless, what I do gives me a different view of the city I live in, and at the very least, I hope it may give me some opportunity to subvert the touristic culture here. Hell, it probably already has. If you've nearly been run over by a cyclist in a place like Amsterdam, you have some idea of how I get about the plaza, when my bike is functional enough to ride fast without dropping its chain. Tourists beware.