This is not a happy post. This was hard. Don't read if you only like my silly, happy posts.
Several times yesterday, I tried to put my feelings about NM down in writing. There is just too much there. It is like a long lost lover who has betrayed you. There are just too many emotions to put voice to them all. I think on the good things. I remember the joy and the fun and the beauty – that is what I usually write about. Living in Red River as a child was wonderful. As a teen-ager it was a bit more difficult. As an adult raising my own kids it was a whole new ballgame. Here is an analogy of life in NNM: It was like being in love with a handsome, charming, fun loving man – on the surface all was great. In reality that lover drank, did drugs, cheated on me, couldn’t make a living, had lots of animosity, was harsh and abusive, but the worst was what he was doing to my children. He was teaching my children that these things were a normal way of life. Although I loved the mountains and my home and friends there, my children came first. I needed to show them that there was something better. Some people would say that raising your children in such an environment as NNM would make them strong. Maybe so, or maybe it would destroy them too. I would rather make them strong somewhere in safety and security. When they are grown and strong, they can make the decision as to where they want to live and how they want their life.
When I talk about NM, I am talking about Northern NM – not a city, but a rural area, sparsely populated. And I am not talking about the rest of NM. I have mentioned dancing in the bars and having a great time. But the alcoholism in NNM is way out of proportion to its population. It is a big problem. When we lived there, Taos County had the highest alcohol related deaths in the country per capita. Off the top of my head I can name three young people who died in stupid, drinking and driving accidents while we lived there – that is a lot more personal than reading about it on the news. Drinking has become such a part of the culture, no one thinks anything of it.
In my teen-age years, the drinking moved on into drugs. Marijuana was the beginning. It was at all of the parties. No one thought much of it – whom did it hurt – that was the attitude. Then those same friends, who occasionally smoked a little pot, moved on into cocaine. Who did it really hurt? Well, I can name several families that it destroyed. Keep in mind that I am not talking about a big city, but a small town of about 300 people. With the popularity of cocaine, came the hard core druggies - people who move into your town and didn’t care who they dealt to – children were targets. I can name kids that the drugs nearly destroyed.
If you are saying, but Lou, drugs are everywhere. No, it is much more than that. It is a way of life to some of these people. I can give you example after example of young people who thought it was normal for your dad to be a drug dealer or for your dad to shoot someone in a drunken brawl.
People come to the mountains thinking there is no crime rate, life is perfect; all of the problems will go away. I have not even mentioned the animosity between the cultures or the poverty or the difficulties in making a living, and I did not mention the gang problems in the schools. Nor did I mention the divorce rate in Red River. It is difficult for me to go on with this without hurting so bad or becoming so angry. I could go on and on with real life examples of the harshness of life in NNM. I will leave you with three articles: one in 2000, one in 2005 on heroin. The last article – well, I know many of the people listed there – my friends, my coworkers, etc. God, I am so mad at them. I loved NNM. I wanted it to be as perfect as it seemes.
My life here in OK is peace and joy. My kids are great, and they are happy. Most important, they are alive and strong. Would I ever move back to NNM? I don't know. I am still so hurt.
Here is a change of subject - two watercolors that I did a few years ago.