Pink Adobe

Sam Shepard had a deep bond with Santa Fe, where he lived in the 1980s and again in 2010–2015. But Shepard had some nomad in him, and as he recorded in his Motel Chronicles in 1982, he spent as much time crisscrossing the deserts of New Mexico as he did living in any one city. As Shepard’s friend Johnny Dark said, “He lived in Santa Fe, but he also lived in hotels and on the road. . . . He might have been running away or he might have been running toward something.” Twenty years earlier, the artist Ed Ruscha, traveling from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, traversed New Mexico and created ghostly photographs of New Mexico gas stations. Together, Shepard’s writing and Ruscha’s images evoke a poetry of loneliness. —John Miller

I headed on to Santa Fe where I thought I might spend a leisurely day and do some writing but, instead, I went out that night to an old restaurant me and Jessie used to go to called the Pink Adobe and asked if the owner was around—a great old Louisiana woman named Rosalie, but it turns out she had died last summer, which kind of shocked me and just when I heard this news I turned toward one wall of the restaurant and saw a picture of Jessica and my son Walker on the wall from when they had visited a year or so ago, and then I went staggering out of the place and the moon was full and everything was so reminiscent and nostalgic of the time me and Jess had lived there and the air was full of that wonderful smell of burning pine—so I decided I would get good and drunk. I hadn’t had that thought in over three and a half years—totally dry—not one single drip of liquor and now, suddenly, I know without a doubt that I am going off with the full intention of getting absolutely smashed. I know exactly what bar I am going to and exactly what kind of booze I’m going to indulge in—red Cabernet from Healdsburg, California, where my other son lives. The bar is completely on the other side of town, way up on Canyon Road, and it’s Sunday night and no one is on the streets at all and I’m walking and there’s that great New Mexican mountain chill in the air. It’s only about forty degrees and having gotten used to Minnesota winters it feels like nothing, and with my new reamed-out heart artery I feel almost invincible anyway, so I walk the whole distance, find the bar where some fat guy is singing old Dylan songs, and I order my big glass of red wine. Sitting there at the bar and looking down the row of slightly pathetic middle-aged ex-hippie types who are obvious regulars, the whole aching despair of bar life comes flooding back and I can’t believe I’m actually back in this situation—this old familiar situation of drinking alone with strangers. I finish my wine and leave and start walking back down the hill into town again—back toward the plaza. I walk for miles and miles, wondering if maybe I’ve gotten disoriented and forgotten the way but then I keep checking for landmarks and realize I’m on the same road me and

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