Conflicted Dreams of Home in New Mexico

Have you ever been in love with a place? For an extended period? I read that women start to form a road map for love at age 8. They begin to repeat patterns in men. So maybe at 8 I started loving New Mexico.

In junior high and high school, I used to dream about New Mexican landscapes, the way some girls pine for a football player. The smell of piñon lingered in my brain like an alluring cologne; I longed for adobe; I yearned for our summer trip. I moved to New Mexico after college. Then I moved away.

Recently I’ve thought about buying a place in New Mexico. Not because I can pay cash for it. Not because it would be palatial. Just because every time I go back, or drive through, my heart aches. I think, this is home. I can travel far and wide. I love living on the West Coast. But I need a place to call home. So I started looking at real estate in Albuquerque.

And then I wondered why humans have made it as long as we have.

I love quirky. Supposedly. Buying quirky real estate? Risky quirky? With lifelong consequences? Maybe I don’t really love-love quirky.

Here are images of properties for sale in New Mexico. I’m going to write catty things. Yes, I’m judging. My residence is equally ridiculous. So maybe I’m calling out all of us “normal” folks. Here are people who’ve spent their lives acquiring and personalizing, and this is where they live. This is what they are selling.

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I LOVE the pink flamingo (ceiling).

I've always wanted to paint my ceilings. Red and lavender. Brilliant!

Painted ceilings! Red and lavender. New Mexico is a place to be yourself.

Why does this make me think of peeing outside?

Why does this make me think of peeing outside?

So many collections, so little space.

So many collections.

Living Beetlejuice!

Living inside Beetlejuice!

When asked "red or green? " just say "Christmas." All year long.

When asked “red or green?” (chile) they said, “Christmas.” All year long.

A bear eating grapes. Not creepy.

A stuffed bear eating grapes on the porch. Not creepy. Not creepy at all.

These are not examples of the spectacularly quirky and art-forward (or straight-up strange) architecture and design New Mexico is known for. These are not high-end, nor low-end. These are middle-class, regular folks’ houses. There’s this kind of quirky all over America, minus the New Mexican flair.

Now I’m contemplating my life’s choices that leave me in a conundrum. I can’t afford a luxury art residence, a place where function becomes infinitely beautiful. I’m looking at houses like these. I don’t want to head to Hobby Lobby and outfit every room in a series of bland “Made in China” metal wall decor, candle holders, and baskets filled with silk ivy.

The alternative seems strange: ceilings too low, eight changes in floor depth, irregularly sponge-painted walls, fire places butting up to computer screens, and walls that mix the following all at once: Mexican tile, Greek frescos, Turkish plates, Victorian corner brackets, and flea market pottery. That’s a lot of culture for one wall.

I have a few stylish, design-forward friends. I’m hoping that by osmosis they will save me from my quirky instincts. Or if I do go into that…strange night, that I just go, and never look back.

Is it the place? Or the thought of the place?

Is it the place? Or the thought of the place?


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  1. Margaret Hunt

    Your comment of Beetlejuice cracked me up! Love your humor and honesty. I’m sure where ever you choose to live you will make it your own. Your style is perfect for you.

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