Hey! I was just thinking of this: My home state of Arizona and its neighbor New Mexico share a special relationship:
New Mexico is like Arizona’s weird, artsy cousin.
New Mexico is the family started by your dad’s weird brother when got out of the Navy and brought a wife of some indeterminate nationality home with him many years before. Your aunt wanders around in a tie-dyed muumuu and wears make-up she creates herself: Some would say too much of it. They live in a rural house he inherited from your even weirder grand-uncle, the one they said was a cannibal or something. They took that little house — a shack, really — and added rooms on to it as needed. It’s nice enough. It serves their needs. Art lines the walls–art they’ve made themselves. Some rooms have murals–some not bad, some horrible. There are books everywhere, but most of them look only partially-read. Every topic from demonology to radiology is represented. There’s talk of a cousin who grew up there and went on to work at some international science lab where they are researching even more devastating weapons than we have now — a hometown boy-made-good. In the backyard there are horses and other stock wandering around in the dirt. Uncle’s just gotten out of jail — again, and he’s drunk — again. Your cousin Elena is kind-of hot, but she’s got that face tattoo and that look in her eye. Cousin Clive is . . . well, Clive is just Clive. His dance recital will have to wait until this nervous breakdown is over. He still wears his red unitard and lipstick all the time. Everyone in the family is nice and fun and insightful, even when they are passing the peyote. They share a single red Chevy Cavalier with front-end damage and a wobbly tire. They can’t seem to keep a car on the road.
So when you visit them you stay over for solstice celebrations. Everyone in the neighborhood shows up in their backyard, including the local parish priest. You wake up the next day naked on the porch, and decide that everything’s gotten too weird. It’s time to go home — back to flatlands covered with freeways and normalcy. You miss the midwestern transplants and their bland palates and block walls and social isolation. You long to see a clean car. You just want a burger. You want to hear a Chicago accent. You want to see a mulberry tree or something else that doesn’t belong in the desert. You miss home.
That’s what New Mexico is like in comparison to Arizona.
To us in provincial Arizona, New Mexico is like the branch of our family we go to visit sometimes when our own people bore us or piss us off.
It’s quite wonderful. “Land of Enchantment,” they say.