In comparison to the drive from Dallas to El Paso, getting into Los Alamos was easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. Into Huckleberry FIt and up some mountainy-hill-things, all in under five hours. I’d always known the Southwest was supposed to be sensationally stunning, but I was unprepared for what that exactly meant. I imagined some sunset-colored rocks on the side of the road, a few tumbleweeds and maybe unavoidable Native American art collections. I was not expecting skies that rivaled Montana in size and Florida in blueness. I was not expecting towering rock faces in every hue of pink, tan, brown, red and some colors my untrained eyes couldn’t name. I was not expecting to literally drop my jaw in speechless awe.
The Southwest is darn pretty.
When I was a teenager, I read the book The Moon by Night, by Madeline L’Engle.* The Austin’s, the family in the novel, take a round the country road trip, and one of their stops was at the pueblos of New Mexico. Ever since reading about Vicky Austin’s experience seeing the these Native American’s homes built into the side of the mountain, I wanted to witness them myself. So when David agreed to go out with me, I asked if he’d meet me at the pueblos. Done and done.
Despite the cozy colors surrounding us, it was in fact not warm in Los Alamos. As in, it snowed the evening before my date, and while the the pueblos were low enough on the mountain that no snow remained, it was still beyond chilly. So I brought David a cup of coffee as a thank you for indulging my desire to explore the great outdoors.
David, like most men in Los Alamos, works at the Lab. He was younger than me, about 25, and seemed full of excited, nervous energy when I met him at the park’s edge. We nabbed a brochure that gave us a self-guided tour around the pueblos, and began hiking. I thought it’d be fun to read the brochure out loud as we toured the area, which was fun…at least for me. David went along gamely but didn’t seem keen on the idea. In fact, by the time we climbed a short ladder up to a plateau, it was clear David was a little bored of me. He was a nice guy, but we didn’t have a lot in common. Which meant the date stopped feeling like a date and felt more like strangers who happened to meet making chitchat because they’re on the same agenda for a few minutes.
As I’m not prone to just let dates not get me something useful, I started asking him about his family, his friends, his lifestory, and what it’s like to date in Los Alamos. The little L.A. (my own nickname for the town, no one calls it that) has a disproportionate number of men to women (4:1, apparently) which means dating is a challenge. David said that the girls expect guys to make a lot of money because the longer you’ve been at the Lab, the more you make. As he’d only been at the Lab for a year, he wasn’t rolling in dough and felt girls were judging him based on the car he drove and the place he lived.
He went on to say most girls in the area were Latina and expected men to have tattoos, a motorcycle and big bucks. As he only had two of the three (a Ninja 250 motorcycle and a scorpion tattoo on his arm) he wasn’t having much luck. Yikes.
Regardless of not being for one another, David and I had a nice time.
*yes, she wrote a bevy of books besides A Wrinkle in Time, all arguably as good or better.