Friday, December 11, 2009


While I know that most of us associate the number 1040 with the form that individuals must file annually with IRS, it also happens to be the exact number of miles we put on the car when Ma'ikwe, Jibran, and I drove to Albuquerque Wednesday night through Thursday afternoon. Ufda.

Fortunately, most of the heavy snow predicted to be dumped on northeast Missouri missed us. As the line of freezing temperature skated to our north, most of the precipitation fell as drizzle and the highway department was more than equal to the task of keeping the roads cleared. When the skies cleared Wednesday evening, temperatures went into free fall and our biggest challenge was the bitter cold and a stiff headwind. We were relieved to exit the cocoon of our car for breakfast in Liberal (does it strike you as odd that there's a major population center located smack in the middle of arch-conservative western Kansas labeled "Liberal"?) and notice that the sun had already pushed temperatures into the 20s. We were going to make it!

Further buoyed by the maple syrup on our pancakes and the caffeine in our coffee, we were borderline euphoric when we remounted for the final one third of our trip. The biggest remaining challenge was rotating drivers frequently enough to keep the person in the left front seat awake (while the person in the right front seat napped).

Though there was evidence of snow all along our route, nowhere was the accumulation daunting and there was hardly any on the roads through Tijeras Pass, where I-40 snakes through the Sandia Mountains that protect Albuquerque's eastern side. We slid painlessly into Thursday afternoon's rush hour traffic, and negotiated the final urban miles without mishap.

We were warmly greeted by our five-lettered hosts—Denis, Zaida, and Nandi—who had a merry wood fire,
a savory lentil soup, and the bonhomie of conversation with close friends to ease our reentry to civilization. It was a soft landing, and it took all of Ma'ikwe's and my reserves to stay present through dinner, after which we were graciously allowed to sink into bed (at 6:30 pm) and the willing arms of Morpheus, whose amazing recuperative powers we benefited from throughout the night. Ah, sleep.

Now Friday, it is the first day of our Southwest vacation. While our hosts are at work and school, Jibran is visiting his best friend, Ma'ikwe is off to a doctor appointment, and I'm writing reports (the loose ends that did not get tied up before my Missouri departure, yet which stand between me and a truly relaxing time at the hot springs in Ojo Caliente starting Sunday afternoon).

Tomorrow, Ma'ikwe and I will join Zaida and others in presenting a free all-day workshop on community living. It's being organized (after a fashion) by a friend who is long on good energy, yet short on structure, which means we have little idea how many will be showing up or what they'd like to get out of the experience. It's an exercise in letting go and trusting the Force (or the goddess of minimalist planning—do you know her?). It should be an interesting day, if somewhat chaotic. Think of it as workshop improv.

Anyway, that's the report from my first 18 hours in Albuquerque, 10-4.

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