It'll be no secret to anyone who's remotely read this blog or anything else I've written that I found home about three or four years ago, when I left my old home in Illinois, packed everything up in the back of my Jeep, and moved to New Mexico, which I feel like was where I found my true home.
I think everywhere you live gets a piece of your heart, and right now, my heart is aching a little more than it usually does for NM. The Las Conchas fire has gone from 6000 acres when it started yesterday to 43000 acres today. They've evacuated Los Alamos, including the hospital. This is the same area that in 2000 had another huge fire, 47k acres burned up, plenty of homes and structures destroyed. It's ten and some change years later, and again, people are in danger. This is the same town that I sometimes HATED because it was so WEIRD and so EXPENSIVE and it was SO HARD to be so far away from home and trying to make my way. Sometimes I felt so alone. But it's where I got a new start. It's where I'd run to the overlook, sometimes to cry and feel like I'd failed and made a huge mistake, sometimes to sketch, sometimes to try and capture the amazing sunsets through a camera lens...sometimes just to think. It's the place that gave me some of the coolest jobs and random opportunities that I've had. There is NOTHING I liked more than the morning break when I was working at Ruby K's bagel cafe. I'd take my cup of coffee out with me while the dough for the day's bread was in the mixer, after the bagels were done, and take a cherry turnover, and I'd sit on the steps of the Parasol restaurant in our same complex, facing the mountains and watch the sun rise. As much as I'm against morning...the sunrise over the mountains will change all that.
And as much as I say I was lonely there, there were special people there. Ruby and Kelly who gave me a shot baking, something I never thought I'd get a chance to do professionally. My buddy Jeremiah, the baker I apprenticed under. The produce guy who was always so kind to me and made it a point to talk to me on lunches up in the employee area, who I later found out was an AMAZING poet...when he came to read what he'd written at the cafe one evening. Marilyn, who was nice to me from the get-go, and who gave me a second job I desperately needed, but also a sort of mother figure in town. The next door neighbor, a man who showed great care and love for all the things he put his hands to. He had the craziest garden for someone who lives in the high desert, and he used to water it like, three times a day. It showed. I'm pretty sure it seems crazy, trying to keep something like that alive, but he was SO. faithful to it. And then one day when I stumbled over to his house, one big mess of wet hair in the snow, barely able to stand because (unknown to me) I was in the midst of a massive, really dangerous kidney infection, he dropped everything and drove my Jeep up the mesa (30 minute drive) in the snow, to get me to the emergency room. He held my hand and said a prayer and talked to me and told me it was gonna be ok. And honestly? I didn't know what was happening. He may have saved my life. I may not have been able to make the drive, I know I wouldn't have. And I may not have known it was that serious and just waited. It's hard to thank someone properly for that.
Some of these people live in White Rock, which has not yet been evacuated (at least not last I checked) and some live right in Los Alamos. But they're facing the same things.
And this is what they're facing again. This picture was taken 6 years after the fire, still scorched earth at the top of the peaks. Still recovering.
But tonight, these people are being evacuated from their homes, their businesses are standing in the path of a huge fire. They've been called and told to get what they can get and leave. Make sure you bring what you can't live without, plan for not being able to come back. Bring your most precious belongings. Nobody knows what's going to happen next. I so very much pray for rain for them, so that the fire can stop, so that the town doesn't have to face the losses it did ten years ago. But at this point all that's left is to wait and see.
And yeah, I didn't live there for long, and it was a battle the WHOLE time I lived there. But there are people and places I love, things I needed to learn that that place taught me. People that cared about some random girl from IL.
Well, this random girl from Illinois has a piece of her heart back in Los Alamos, too.
I hope everyone gets out safely, and all I can think of is that I wish it would pour down rain.