Saturday, March 27, 2010

away we went

My first time stealing away from Jonah was when he was three months old (around the time I went back to work). I spent the three sinful days (mom's guilt; I know other mothers can relate) with my sister and mom in Seattle, pumping breast milk like a dairy cow while--the devoted groupie that I am--admiring my sister in concert and revisiting with two of the women closest to my heart the places we lived and frequented once upon a time when Seattle was our first American hometown.

Now Tim and I have both had opportunities to take breaks from the incessant duties of parenthood for the occasional night or two (or a few), but as a couple, we haven't had many chances to get away together. In fact, last month was the first time we left town without the little guy for just one night. (Little guy is four-and-a-half by now already, mind you!) And just last week Tim and I spent several days alone together on a trip to New Mexico, thanks to Jonah's paternal grandparents, uncle and aunt, who took care of him in our absence. And what an amazing experience that trip was!

I have traveled around the US quite a bit, crossing the continent from one coast to the other seven times by land, and traveling North to South the slow way many times. I've spent time in (not just driven through) nearly half the states, but this was my first time in New Mexico. I am still digesting the impressions I took away from that place.

Aside from the magnificent and varied scenery and scrumptious food of New Mexico, which both floored me, I was most affected--disturbed and simultaneously moved--by the state's history. For me, visiting New Mexico was, for the first time entering flourishing Native America, and I tried my best to be a humble guest. New Mexico, unlike any other part of the US I have come to know, is a place where the dominant paradigm is not Anglo, but indigenous. The truth is that--and I don't care if this sounds crazy to some of you--many aspects of the Anglo world just don't sit well with me. So being in New Mexico--with its painful, yet inspiring history of Native American triumph despite the violence inflicted on the Pueblo Indians by the Euros and Anglo-Americans, I felt a sense of relief and reverence for the incredible strength that it took for the people of New Mexico to assert their ways and persevere.

I was so moved by this that while taking in local history in museums, books and in remote places as well as cities, I was often unable to hold back my tears. I am always very careful not to romanticize events or groups of people, but I do have to acknowledge my admiration here. The whole trip, I felt so deeply for the people and the land. I was especially moved when reading about the Pueblo Indian revolt of 1680 against the Spaniards, which, in the words of author and historian Joe S. Sando, a Pueblo Indian, "made it possible for the Pueblo people of today to remain on their traditional lands, thus preserving their farmlands, their culture, and their way of life."

During the trip, I took note of how differently history is told depending on who tells it and who funds the effort. Yes, it's true; my heart tends to root for the underdog. But I am not naive. I also understand that the assault on the local people's way of life is far from over. It continues, one of the ways being the dumping of nuclear waste on the native people's land. So, the fight is still on.

I am so grateful Tim and I had this opportunity to travel and learn in the process. Lucky us, indeed. Jonah did great without us from what we heard. And I hope that some day we will have the chance to return to New Mexico. It really is a special place.

1 comment:

Alisa said...

Tereza, I loved reading your thoughts and deeply felt thinking about the people of New Mexico and their history. Thank you for sharing it here and for being the great writer you are.