Which state are we in, anyway?

Feb 16, 2019 | 0 comments

Marta at 14, 1968

Marta must have been about ten and Charlie eight when we all went on a camping trip to New Mexico.  Our ultimate goal was to visit our friend Corina Santistevan in Taos but we also spent time on the way to and from in Prescott, Arizona where our friends Fred and Frances Sommer lived.

My memories about the details are a bit dim now.  I’m pretty sure that we visited a few of the National Parks and maybe took time to go to the Grand Canyon.  I do remember that Corina took us to visit friends in the Taos Pueblo and we were treated to warm bread just removed from the outdoor oven or “horno” as it is properly called.

A Horno in Taos

The other thing I especially remember about that trip is Marta’s curiosity about the various state lines we crossed.  “But how do we really know that we’re in Arizona now?  It looks just the same as California.”  No amount of pointing out signs like “Entering Arizona” or “Entering New Mexico” really helped her understand such an arbitrary concept.

She and I talked about that not too long ago.  “Yep!” she laughed.  “I still wonder about those abstract concepts.”  Charlie, on the other hand, accepted without comment any explanations we gave about natural boundaries and decisions by congress and measurements by surveyors.  I’m not sure he really cared one way or another.  But Marta wanted some sort of physical evidence.

Charlie at 12 or 13 (c. 1968/1969)

I thought about all that yesterday when we learned that we were now in “a state of emergency.”  I wondered what ten-year-old Marta, the literal thinker, would have made of that.  Would she have asked (quite sensibly, I believe) “How can you tell?”  Would she have wondered if we’d be adding another star to all the flags?  And would there be a governor in charge?  Would someone be voting on the rules for this new state called Emergency?

It was hard enough to explain about Arizona’s state line.  I don’t know if I could have answered her questions about this new state of Emergency.   Actually… not then and not now.

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