I cannot say what attracts me to certain locations and why, in some cases, that attraction has lasted for decades. It is enough that the attraction exists. Places like Shawneetown, Illinois where I started school, Loogootee, Indiana where I graduated high school and returned for my first real job, the Shawhan farm near Union, Indiana, and Indiana University at Bloomington, Indiana have all continued to call me back numerous times over the past several decades. I’m sure a few of those visits can be attributed to nostalgia, but I rarely spend time chasing ghosts from the past nor do I yearn to go back in time to claim some missed opportunity that might have altered my future. Still, there is a certain pleasure I derive from being in places that hold mostly pleasant memories from my past; strolling along familiar sidewalks and revisiting favorite haunts. It continues to amaze me how the physicality of these locations is much smaller than my memories of them. A case in point is my grandparents’ home, which I thought was pretty big when I was growing up. How that three bedroom, one bathroom farmhouse held 65 people at Christmas almost defies the laws of physics.
My attraction to the Southwest started on a visit to Albuquerque, New Mexico with my parents in the late 50’s. Even though I didn’t return for many years, that part of the country was continually calling me back. I read every National Geographic article I could find and marveled at the photos I saw in Arizona Highways. In the early 1980’s, I attended a seminar in Tucson, Arizona and it dawned me that my college years would have been quite different if I had attended the University of Arizona instead of Indiana University. Given all the distractions I saw there in three days, it’s possible graduation might not have occurred in four years or a lot longer. For me, the Southwest does not get smaller when I revisit. I just gets bigger and more awe inspiring each time I return. The expanses are larger, skies bigger, and distances between points greater. The more things I see, the more there is to see. It does not diminish, it expands. The attraction grows stronger and I have no intention of resisting. I’m going back at the end of April to spend time in New Mexico with my good friend, Geraint Smith, and then go on a solo adventure for a few days in the area around Tucson. It will be an awesome adventure and I look forward to just going along with the pull of that attraction and being fully present there.
The only thing better is to be in the tractor beam that brings me back home.
The image above was created just off the Santa Fe Plaza, in the historic district.