Today I got off the bus in Albuquerque, NM. It is beautiful here, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I’m wandering around in a cheesy 1970s TV sitcom. I keep expecting a police officer with aviators and too-tight pants to stop me on the street and say, “You’re not from around here are you, little lady?”
I’m spending the night at the Route 66 Hostel , a quaint and quirky little house a few blocks from the main strip. So far, I have made two friends. Stone, the lanky doorman that gave me a discount because I recognized his Philly Love T-shirt, and Cyrus, an out-of-town salesman who ate the last half of my chocolate cake after telling me never to move to Cleveland. The hostel is quiet now, and I am sitting on the porch watching passers-by and smoking a clove. I’ve smoked quite a bit on this trip. Sometimes, it’s because I’m someplace seedy and I want to look less vulnerable and sometimes, like now, it’s my own shallow attempt at appearing mysterious and interesting. My legs are tucked underneath me because the porch is crawling in beetles and, although I’d rather not come into contact with them directly, I sort of enjoy watching them wander.
I had quite a few interesting conversations while roaming the strip today – mainly with men. I think I fall into a category that I like to call “approachably pretty.” I’m attractive enough to turn a head or two, but not so attractive that your average run-of-the-mill dude considers me out of his league. With my camera slung over my arm, it’s easy to strike up a conversation. Is that for a class or something?...Why don’t you take my picture?...What kind of lens are you using? Most of the time, I don’t mind. Why not be friendly for 15 minutes and enjoy a free beer when you can? The bartenders at the place where I had dinner tonight seemed sad. They were all skinny and tattooed with unnaturally dark hair, and I wondered if they wrote poetry on their skin to make them feel more comfortable in it.
I passed by a greenhouse of sorts and bought myself a bouquet of mystery blossoms. I’ve never been able to identify flowers outside of your generic tulip/carnation/rose variety, but these small blooms were red and orange and a little wild-looking – like they’d just moved up to the weight class above "weeds." I took to them instantly. Carrying them around the strip all afternoon made me feel feminine and free and grateful to be exactly who I am, exactly where I am… at least for today.