Campus Life Campus: Santa Fe

Ode to Canyon Road

There’s an impulse now to make everything “before” the current situation a tad rose-colored, but no doubt things on Canyon Road really were, down the road, a 15-minute walk past Atalaya Elementary, Tom Ford’s compound rising to to the right and the Audubon society to the left, past a church, a Montessori school, and a large park, then the steep slope rising towards the Santa Fe Ski Basin. To stay on this path would lead beneath trees to the Plaza, along the little sometime-river stream. Adjacent is the famed Canyon Road. 

Canyon Road, oh, how we love you. Road of tourist-tour buses, friends on bikes, gallery conversations, and long, long lunches resulting from even longer walks. Somehow, for how busy I complained of being, I now consider most of recent life to have been lived quietly in this stretch between the Teahouse – weekend workplace of several Johnnies – and the Meyer Gallery – workplace of Andrea, whose son, I learned recently, goes to medical school in Denver. By early March, the birds had already begun to sing, but the flowers and the trees in antique gardens were yet to come into themselves. It was light enough in the evening already for a run after class, to see early-bird valet parking for the Porches lined up for a five-star dinner at Geronimo along the way. 

Here is where, once you have learned that you need it, and once that you have learned that it’s possible, you can get away from any insularity of being at school and find enough of the outside world to crack you open for a few hours. A friend who visited me, as people will when you go to school in Santa Fe, spoke for half an hour to a gallery owner who had studied in the same museum in the same small village in Spain as she had. (I was offered in this gallery an orange from a locally crafted bowl surrounded by scattered coffee table books.) Over a split pizza at the bottom of the hill one evening, an older couple sees our gathering and remarks, “I loved those days.” A woman in the Quaker meeting on Canyon Road stood one Sunday, to no great purpose, but moved by some spirit, to talk about her family in Texas, and she, I, and one dear johnnie ate three different types of salad together in the garden afterwards. On a morning run past the adobe and the turquoise shutters, another friend told me about her childhood in India, as she opened and closed her arms to the morning sun, photosynthesizing. Some people might even hold your hand on this road, if it’s past twilight, and this becomes its own little world. What richness of stories of siblings, of only-childhood, of parents, grandchildren, future plans and semesters of regret, has this road heard on these walks. 

As a senior in high school, I had no sense of what life in college would be like. It’s harder to ask on a college tour, “What will shape my days here? What colors do you have to offer? Who will walk beside me, and what lessons will I learn from them?” 

Junior spring, we read Hobbes in seminar. He says we are only a collection of impressions. Our lives, then, must be projects of vivacity of perception, of contemplating the Western landscape inside and out of frames, of cars full of classmates waving adieu for who-knows-how-long, and window-shopping for opals, all of which can be done to great effect on Canyon Road. I recommend it, when you get the chance. 

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