1977 Arroyo Seco, NM, (at the foot of Taos Ski Valley)

This must have been the winter when it snowed in October and the ground stayed white until May. And I dressed in layers. Under those jeans, some thick long johns, bottom and top, and then the pretty frock, one of the few things I owned not hand made by me, for me. That dress was from a shipment of India Imports clothes my dear friend Miki Long organized every few months. She’s take orders at her house, from her catalogue, and order in bulk. The semi-truck barreling along the highway would pull over, and she’d be there at pre-arranged times to exchange the dough for the bundle of India import clothes for women. She had the same thing going with wholesale foods, health foods, that she’d order up in bulk boxes and bags and we’d divvy up our yogurts and sacks of rice at half the price of going to Santa Fe. All before the coop in Taos took over and became a local health food store. Miki had four kids and didn’t drive in those days. She innovated. Ran her own little business.

And I, in the picture, am in the early stages of my sewing business (Divine Fit Sewing)—the “divine fit” part referenced the deep hysteria I felt about making custom clothes, curtains, upholstery covers, etc., when I really wanted to be doing something more brainy, more engaging. But first, before I returned to college and mainstream society, I sewed for everyone I knew. My jeans patches were a bread and butter industry for me. One handsome guy whose name eludes me now, said if it weren’t for the six layers of thigh patches on his Levis, that chainsaw he dropped would’ve cut his leg off. I charged six bucks an hour to patch pants (2.5 times minimum wage) and wouldn’t touch a pair that hadn’t been properly laundered first.

In the photo, I’m wearing an alpaca sweater from the Free Box in El Prado, warmer than most coats, and I’m caught here in the act of wrapping a long mohair scarf round my neck to top off the coziness. The Sorrels were a thrift store special which I loved to pieces and if it was above 10 degrees, I don’t think I bothered much with hats and gloves. I may have been going out to the woodpile to chop up some wood, our only source of heat in that big old adobe. The vehicle is my old Dodge slant six which thankfully had a block heater so she started right up in the morning. Amos was in school in town some eleven miles down the road. The wood stove was an airtight so the fire would go to embers, but I don’t remember ever being cold. I was busy.

In the spring I went to Alamogordo to get help with my relentless depressions. I think this picture was taken after my first session with Robert. I looked happy. I remember feeling happy, how hopeful I became about having a better life, better than endless torment over the missing Michael. I’d given him up entirely, and in this picture, I am feeling empowered and joyful.


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