Jews believe that there are multiple parts to the soul.
We believe that we have access to most of them during the work week, and the final one visits us on the Sabbath.
I believe that there are myriad parts to my air, and that I have access to all of them only in Northern New Mexico.
When I first arrived, in the early ’80s, all I noticed was shortness of breath due to altitude.
I had started crying uncontrollably in New York City on New Year’s Day 1983, great gusts of tears, ragged sobbing, no matter where, the bathroom, the grocery store, dance class, auditions. Not quite as insane as it may sound, I had just undergone a difficult divorce, difficult because we still loved each other, still liked each other, but had succumbed to the knowledge that we had nothing else in common. In our 20s/30s, that was a deal-breaker.
I gave up things, one by one, from most to least stressful. Auditions went first, then classes were tossed out the window, lessons, I considered hiding from work but was solely responsible for my lease.
Each thing I gave up, I cried a bit less.
I walked more, despite biting February winds in the city’s canyons, and little by little realized that I’d never had a real vacation in my life. I didn’t have an agent, so I needed to be in the city in case whatever auditions might occur. Time off from working was spent with my folks in Cleveland – lovely, rejuvenative, but another home with its own responsibilities and stresses.
One day I shut my eyes, flipped pages in a road atlas, and stabbed with my finger. It landed halfway between Flagstaff, Arizona and Santa Fe, New Mexico. A bit of research revealed that Santa Fe was far less expensive to visit – that has never since been true – so I booked an open-ended flight and flew.
Three weeks later, I moved there.
Santa Fe and Los Alamos have been enormously good to me and I hope I’ve contributed my fair share in return. Ironically, my allergies became so violent that after 20 years, I had to leave. I return only occasionally, hopped up on meds, most recently for the world premiere of Cowboy Poet, a C&W musical.
But, whether I’m coughing or sneezing or wheezing, still I breathe more fully up there.
I’m thinking this is as important as, more important than finding your tribe.