Today is the final day of my vacation. February vacation has always been a favorite of mine, it's the first time off that doesn't include a holiday which means it can be really relaxing. I should also admit I like it because it includes my birthday and getting a week off of school is always an excellent present.
This week I really packed things in and created more of a carbon output than I would care to think about. I started the week with a trip to CT to visit my parents. For my birthday they gave me one winter gift: a gorgeous soft and funky scarf that my mom knit herself and one summer gift: a hammock! Now I can really feel tropical in the warm weather, crowding all my plants and the hammock onto my balcony will really give me the feeling of being out in the wild. I set up the hammock when I got home yesterday just for fun, and was able to swing and read for a little while wrapped up in my scarf and a blanket.
Saturday night we got to go to a symphony concert. The CT opera recently had to close mid-season due to finances and so the director gave a brief speech at the beginning outlining the plans of the symphony and promising that they would not close mid-season so please buy season tickets. It made me realize that I would like to support the arts more. I go to all the student performances at school, but I should really look into what professional events I could attend. This is where I wish that I was better about going to things by myself.
Sunday I departed for New Mexico. I was worried about being bored traveling by myself so I over packed my carry on- grading, books, crosswords, mp3 player full of podcasts and a deck of cards. Needless to say I only got to the grading and the book but it was nice to have the mp3 player for background music to block out the chatterbox sitting next to me on the second flight. As a listener rather than a talker I am amazed by how some people can just talk and talk and talk; as long as the guy across the aisle wanted to listen, I didn't mind, I just don't have that much to say and it was surprising to me how much he did.
When I arrived in Albuquerque my friends picked me up and we headed up to Santa Fe. We were supposed to quickly stop by their new place and pick up the dog before heading back to their soon to be old home (they moved while I was visiting). It wasn't quite as quick as we expected though, since they had locked the keys in the house! After quite a few different failed methods, we did manage to get in and save the dog. It was certainly an exciting start to my visit.
The next day saw a delicious brunch which included my introduction to green chilies (a staple of NM) and a trip up to Diablo Canyon. Santa Fe is already about 7,000 feet above sea level, and we headed even further into the Rockies and then down into a canyon. This part of the state is desert, which was a new landscape for me. Even though it was only 40 degrees out, the sun was strong enough that I could leave behind my coat. The paths we walked were sand, and there were boulders, cacti, other unique flora and huge cliffs surrounding us. A few people were rock climbing but otherwise we had a vast landscape (including those huge skies I recognized from trips to Colorado) to ourselves.
That evening was filled mostly with relaxing at home, but we managed to fit in a brief visit to a unique art exhibit. A group of artists rent a space together and invite others to help them transform it each month. On the first day everyone gathers and chooses a location in the room and then that area is theirs to do what they want with. The final product, which is what I saw, is an interesting blend of different styles and interests, tucked into corners, under tables as well as atop them, painted directly on to the floor, and hanging from the ceiling. A few things carry throughout the space (ghosts hung around the room to commemorate the opening of that show on Friday the 13th) but mostly every way you turn is unique and requires individual attention. Nothing they do there is for sale, and everything will be removed at the end of the month long exhibit. It was a really interesting introduction to the art scene in Santa Fe (art is huge in the city and is the reason my friends moved there).
In the following days we explored Taos and Santa Fe, visiting galleries and parks, relaxing at home and meeting friends. I purchased a few keepsakes, including a vase made by natives that captures some of the colors and textures of New Mexico. Mostly though, we looked and were careful not to touch as the art we enjoyed was far out of our price range. I left the state satisfied with having seen the unique aspects of the area - the landscape and the art - while still having found plenty of time to relax and enjoy just being with my friends.
The return to CT brought more visits with family, a night out in New Haven and a visit with a college friend. Then, I finally returned to the apartment. Since my return yesterday I've been attempting to maintain that relaxed yet accomplished sensation while scurrying around to get life back into order. Tomorrow I return to school and I hope that everyone (including myself) will be ready to get back into the habits and structure that we have escaped from for what seems a very long time.