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Jennifer Wiseman - Moon to Moon

MyPersonal Trek to Taos and the First Month of Residency 

“Taosenos”is a term I have yet to earn with only 27 days here under my belt.  My aspiration is the decision to move across the country over the final unrested weekend before the most pivotal election this country has experienced, albeit during a Pandemic, will testify of my commitment to my new community.  The trek began 4 months prior; shopping for homes virtually. Due to quarantine restrictions, traveling here physically was impossible. We joined the “new norm” folks and facetimed with our agent viewing properties through a 4.7”screen while Google Earth became our new favorite tech tool.  Why Taos? My better half John skied here before and he assured me I was going to love it.  “The quaint town, art galore and hippie colony are perfect for you” he said. I dreamed of at least visiting Taos many moons ago myself to enroll in a class at the famed Taos Midwifery school when I was studying home birthing.  Although that vision never came to fruition, I trusted John to know me, my tastes and vibe, and besides, I am always up for an adventure!  

My administrative career in healthcare is a steady one where I will not be an outsider competing for a local’s job and will only contribute to the local economy.  I chose to shop local for a mortgage (and she became one of my new friends!) and local for insurance because that is how I roll.  The national chains offered great incentives for me to choose them over small town businesses but then I would be delaying my integration here rather than closing that gap.  My “community first” ethic is founded in a background of spiritual ministry and humanitarian aid.  John is a highly recommended private ski instructor. His affection for the Ski Valley fueled our decision to attempt to make Taos our home.

So we prepared.  Prepared to sleep in the back of our Porsche Cayenne in sleeping bags along with our dog.  Prepared with 3 days’ worth of food and water to avoid longer stops, restaurants, and mingling with unknown masked (or not!)faces during a viral pandemic.  Armed with hand sanitizer and boxes of gloves for pumping gas or restroom doorhandles. Bathroom choices were consciously made for nearly deserted rest areas along the way.  If I have learned anything working for a company that staffs nurses around the country for COVID safety screening led by a Medical Director with 30 years of Pandemic study experience,I’ve learned the safety precautions!

My research drew a blank for any prerequisite “rites of passage” to become grafted into the Taos society, thereforeI hope that my struggles and challenges prove I am worthy.  I tenaciously wrestled against many obstacles to complete the simplest, mundane tasks just to get here. John driving a 30-foot moving truck that would not go over 45 miles per hour gave us both “white knuckle” anxiety that still lingered 6 days after the journey was complete. My childhood “Lord’s Prayer” became the 3-day mantra as I watched my rear-view mirrors while sweating bullets as not one, but three giant farm rigs with those hay bale rolls that are as big as the John Deer tractor that baled them, passedJohn by on just a two-lane highway – at once!  The realization we really undertook a dangerous mission moving ourselves instigated new prayers, “God I promise to hire professional movers next time, please just keep John safe.” Grateful recipients of mercy, we rolled in just after dark on the eve of Election Day.We were scheduled to close the sale transaction on our home the next day, also my birthday, November 3rd.  An unexpected phone call came in as we were en route; closing would be delayed due to some unforeseen hiccups.  Okay, we are the type that will bend with the bamboo and take it in stride.  After all there was much to celebrate waking up on the day I turned 51 in our new house. The view of Mt. Taos is exhilarating, the dog being able to run and play in her unfamiliar yard after 3days of vehicle incarceration was joyful, plus our neighbor Cindy welcomed us cheerfully as she was taking her morning walk down our road.  So far, off to a great start!  

Working remotely prior to the crisis, John and I had extraordinarily little exposure to the outside world since it began. Trips to the grocery store brought us from the confines of our nest and many of our goods had been shipped in. Arriving in Taos would have deemed the same practice at least for the first two weeks, even if there were no restrictions in place.  Essential items would be the only reason to leave the premises with precautionary measures taken to protect ourselves and our new community.  One vital item was to collect our mailbox key.  This was urgent for we had documents being forwarded to our new address crucial for the impending transition.  I called the national number and the Post Office advised to go to my local branch, submit a form and they will call me a few days later to collect my key.  There was no work-around to submit this online or over the phone.  Waiting for most cars to clear the Bertha Street location lot, I stepped in the lobby, mask in place. I waited far more than 6 feet for the only gentleman there to finish and approached the counter when it was clear to do so.  As Murphy’s Law would have it, another patron walked in at that exact moment.  She eavesdropped on my introduction to the attendant behind the counter and voluntarily yelled very loudly at me that I was required to quarantine.  I tried to politely address that the postoffice would not assist me by telephone and she continued at a high decibel to blame me for endangering others and admonish me, “this is real” (Coronavirus).She threw her stuff on the counter and stormed out. Now I have no desire to argue nor disobey any laws which is why I self-quarantined the whole way here.  I do not take the situation lightly and have a profound respect for the safety of others.  Governor mandates perhaps should be taken into consideration by a federal institution, but regardless, our national postal system had no interest in assisting me with my essential business during a global crisis.  “Go to the office” they said and waiting 14 days was not an option.  This first interlude in public left me in tears prompting the postal attendant to apologize for the outburst.  She proved herself to be kind and welcoming and made me feel more at ease.  I also learned she had recently transplanted to Taos.  I’ve resided in several locations: New York,Colorado, Minnesota, Israel, and Connecticut. And with all locations combined, I never felt more unwelcomed. All I can say is, “this is my first pandemic, please bear with me.”

The subsequent challenging hurdle was my national financial institution has not one branch in the entire state ofNew Mexico.  They were uncompromising with daily limits for wire transfers thus making it nearly impossible for me to shift the necessary funds on time to close on our new home.  Six hours of grappling with 15 different representatives of said bank had me a hair away from having to add a 7 hour round trip journey to Colorado Springs; just so I could complete a 60 second wire transaction.  If it were not for finally reaching a creative manager on the other end of the phone who was able to find a solution, I would have been making another full day’s journey in a car across state lines; just so I could call Taos home. Another notable of the many trials we faced during the 2,009-mile relocation.  

I read a comment on a local Taos social media page with the first piece of advice to the ‘outsider’: “change your license plate quick!” decorated with a hundred laughing emoji’s indicating there was some wisdom to this local counsel.  My very first postal interaction would not be considered a soft landing and my New York thick skin turns to mush as I contemplate how outsiders may just very well be rejected here. I yearn for the day I can mingle and get to know the new digs in a very real, tangible way rather than just from a computer screen.

The mixed melting pot Taos claims to be is proving to be true so far during this short stay.   I have a zeal for life despite being shred by the blades of tragic events to be considered crippling, armed with certifiable credentials worthy to validate a patient’s need for psychiatric care or justifiably cause one to be dependent on some substance.  Much like the stories of other locals, I am not only a survivor; I am an overcomer. My engine is fueled with a desire to contribute rather than syphon.  I have high hopes of meeting the literary and dance communities in town starting with my recent membership to The Literary Society of Taos.  Additionally, I would love to volunteer as a guest teacher or competition judge at local dance studios.  I professionally trained under two sisters who were Rockettes from Radio City Music Hall of New York City.  The training was mostly funded by scholarship and I wish to pay it forward.  My national competition experience in both dance and baton twirling qualifies my abilities for teaching marching line formations with precision.  If Taos High wants to put their marching band on the competitive map, I am so there!  I want nothing in return other than to make a difference in this world and Taos appears to be a wonderful place to invest my time and talents.  Within myself I have many facets and what better place than to join a multi-cultural community?                

On the home front our Australian shepherd was depressed and lonely leaving her friends behind.  The postal attendant I met that unpleasant day recommended Stray Hearts shelter. Once our 14 days were up, there we were meeting our new addition to the family! We encountered many friendly, caring staff members who were willing to provide support for us.  We met a local turned drifter needing a ride home to the south of Taos in the foothills.  We made new acquaintances both local and transplanted from the pet adoption as well as the local utility companies.  So far, most people seem warm and friendly mixed with (thankfully) fewer icy cold souls. It would not be a diverse community if we did not have unwelcoming individuals as well now, would it?

Spiritually speaking I have heard“energy vortex” in relation to Taos a time or two. I read the Dali Lama proclaimed Taos contains the “purest energy on earth”.   My eclectic self would not be complete without the fusion of faiths on which I stand. I mentioned I once entertained applying to the midwifery school here.  Internal reflection reveals I have been drawn here, like a magnet, for a calling or purpose. Perhaps detours prevented an earlier arrival.  It is questionable if a full Halloween moon cusping on an anxious election during a health crisis is the best timing that can be however, here I am! Calling or not, I am left with the feeling that Taos will either love me or hate me.  As one individual who transplanted herself here 16 years ago put it, “Taos will embrace you or spit you out.”  Should it be the latter, there is one commonality for certain that I share with all Taosenos alike and that is resilience.  Taos may love me or hate me,but like yourselves, you will never destroy me. Am I worthy to call Taos my forever home?  I suppose only time will tell.




Charlotte T. Gracye



(845) 476-6133