Last weekend our friends Thibault and Morgane paid us a visit at home in New Mexico. Coming from the hustle and bustle of Paris, they were amazed to see the truly limitless expanses of open landscape around Santa Fe. On our drive home from the airport, we took the backroads from Albuquerque to Santa Fe through Madrid. Riding quietly along and chatting here and there for quite some time, Thibault suddenly realized, “We haven’t seen another car for like an hour.” My husband and I laughed, “Yeah, I guess you’re right. That’s pretty typical.” Our friends were amazed.
Morgane wanted to pull over so they could lay in the middle of the road for a photo: The American West, a long empty trail stretching for miles through the desert off into the mountains without another car, house, or person in sight. They created some perfect pictures laying beside and holding hands across the yellow center line. It was a pretty powerful and surreal idea, so why had I never thought of doing that or anything remotely like it?
I moved here from Manhattan almost six years ago, and seeing my friends marvel at the land, I remembered feeling like that too. Sometimes it can create the most wonderful moment to have a new set of eyes taking in your daily life and surroundings, making you see things fresh, and appreciating what now seems mundane all over again. Our whole weekend together was like that, seeing everything again for the first time. It made me very happy.
When we arrived at our house initially, Morgane fell in love with what we learned are our very American-looking mismatched dining room chairs (many cheap and free Craigslist finds that we’ve never taken much notice of). She was particularly taken with a large red ladder back. “You would never find this in France. You are so lucky to have such a beautiful chair,” she told us earnestly. In fact, the red chair joined us specially for more Parisian-requested Western photos next morning at the Lamy train stop. Thibault and Morgane happily photographed us on the empty train tracks which go on infinite and uninterrupted through the sagebrush, then created a cameo shoot for the red chair itself on a stretch of unpopulated road near the station.
On their last day, we packed a picnic and drove into the Pecos Wilderness for a hike. The walk ended in one of our favorite mountaintop meadows, a place we like to visit on the weekends, and where of course there are also no people. We were surrounded by peaks on all sides and the air around us was perfectly silent, as is often the case. Our friends ran and rolled through the grass, thrilled at the emptiness and the view, and took a full-circle 360 video clip to prove that the all-encompassing wilderness and quiet had truly been a real experience: “This is crazy, there is no building, no cell phone tower, no road, nothing. Wow.” I laid in the grass, too, and breathed in the quiet air and sunshine. They were totally right. Wow.
Photos in this post by Morgane Sezalory and Bryan Berg.