I found myself in Tucumcari at the very beginning of 2021, having decided to leave Albuquerque, but unsure of how the next part of my life should go.
I had wandered between Las Cruces and Amarillo, searching for a decent, affordable place to live and just that amicable feeling or sense of where I should be. I was looking for something between the cracks in the sidewalks, or behind the faces of ordinary people I would see at the grocery store.
I had been through here earlier but decided against it; and then, having left Amarillo still unsure, ended up back here to stay for just a bit because I was simply tired of being on the road. Or something like that.
And I’m still here.
I sent some photos to my brother in the Phoenix area. He told me his wife commented that Tucumcari looked kind of rundown. That’s understandable. The photos I sent included some of the vintage buildings and ghost-town-like scenes we who live here know well — that mid-20th century vibe and wistful air of things gone by.
But I don’t mind what anybody says or thinks -- I think our best days are coming, and sooner than most who live here might imagine; and I like the haunting quality of this place, its streets with the occasional signs of something new, standing near the remains of older times literally falling apart, right in front of you.
I notice the travelers, stopping to look or get a picture. Why would they do that if there’s nothing to see? The whole place is like living inside a historical object lesson on the impermanence of everything, the inevitability of change, and the consequences of decisions made by both those from the past, and those of us here now.
But that lesson and mystique is not what I’m thankful for most. I look around at the rest of the country, being whipped up and thrashed by all the changes in their daily lives ... the floods, the fires, the droughts, the storms; and beyond those natural disasters, the man-made ones ... the crime spiking in some cities, the recurring mass shootings, the overflow of refugees and migrants in other areas, and the strains on the local populations that dealing with all this causes.
And then there’s the politics — a great, sorrowful, willful, tribal, burning, steaming pile of it. In too much of the rest of the country, everything “wrong” is most assuredly somebody else’s fault, and nothing to do with “ourselves” (whomever that happens to be).
And then I go for a walk.
And I am thankful about all the things Tucumcari is missing. We don’t have those floods or tornadoes or wildfires. We could always use more rain, but we don’t seem to be on the verge of disaster in terms of water.
And we’re missing out on the excessive crime, mass shootings and political crazies. The elections here are run by people who are just fine, no matter what their party is or isn’t. And the results are even accepted by the losers once the counting is done and verified. Imagine that.
We’re OK with the truth, whatever it turns out to be. We’ll deal with it, and life goes on. The sun comes up in the morning and everything is fine, relatively speaking.
Even when they lose.
Stan Hartt is an aspiring writer/inventor who enjoys being part of our town. While he does not promise he will write back, send any correspondence to P.O. Box 568, Tucumcari.