"Sam Shepard: New Mexico" excerpt - "Pink Adobe"
Published in March 2020


I headed on to Santa Fe where I thought I might spend a leisurely day and do some writing but, instead, I went out that night to an old restaurant me and Jessie used to go to called the Pink Adobe and asked if the owner was around ó a great old Louisiana woman named Rosalie but it turns out she had died last summer, which kind of shocked me and just when I heard this news I turned toward one wall of the restaurant and saw a picture of Jessica [Lange] and my son Walker on the wall from when they had visited a year or so ago and then I went staggering out of the place and the moon was full and everything was so reminiscent and nostalgic of the time me and Jess had lived there and the air was full of that wonderful smell of burning pine ó so I decided I would get good and drunk.

I hadnít had that thought in over three and a half years ó totally dry ó not one single drip of liquor and now, suddenly, I know without a doubt that I am going off with the full intention of getting absolutely smashed. I know exactly what bar I am going to and exactly what kind of booze Iím going to indulge in ó red Cabernet from Healdsburg, California where my other son lives.

The bar is completely on the other side of town, way up on Canyon Road and itís Sunday night and no one is on the streets at all and Iím walking and thereís that great New Mexican mountain chill in the air. Itís only about forty degrees and having gotten used to Minnesota winters it feels like nothing and with my new reamed out heart artery I feel almost invincible anyway so I walk the whole distance, find the bar where some fat guy is singing old Dylan songs and I order my big glass of red wine. Sitting there at the bar and looking down dawn the now of slightly pathetic middle-aged ex-hippie types who are obvious regulars the whole aching despair of bar life comes flooding back and I canít believe Iím actually back in this situation ó this old familiar situation of drinking alone with strangers. I finish my wine and leave and start walking back down the hill into town again ó back toward the plaza.

I walk for miles and miles, wondering if maybe Iíve gotten disoriented and forgotten the way but then I keep checking for landmarks and realize Iím on the same road me and Jessica used to bicycle down every morning with Shura strapped to the back of her motherís bike like some little papoose ó she was about three years old then and we would go to this little coffee shop connected to the La Fonda Hotel and have breakfast.

Then I go diving further into the past and remember when you and I had met each other in the lobby of the La Fonda after a night of debauchery with two women and no sleep and I keep right on associating into the inevitable memories of my Dad being a custodian at the La Fonda and then, before I know exactly whatís going on with myself Iím there inside the La Fonda at the bar ordering another glass of red wine! Thereís a whole group of English tourists sitting in one corner of the place ordering German beer. Theyíre very organized and even go about getting drunk in an orderly fashion.

I finish this second large glass of red wine and go out into the lobby and start wandering around staring at all the great photographs of early Santa Fe days, some dating back to the very early 1800s ó views of the plaza with muddy streets and burros and Indians and Mexicans and soldiers and all the great mix of races and the marketplace and traders from all over ó none of them with even the slightest clue that the whole place would one day be invaded by Hollywood and millionaires and that the biggest commodity would be heart and Indian jewelry.

I head out into the street and find yet another bar, another hotel, another big glass of red wine and finally manage to get myself good and sloshed. Now, I got to the plaza or rather, try to walk through the plaza on my way back to the hotel where Iím staying. Thereís still not a soul on the street. One low-rider car ó a silver Chevy which Iím actually surprised to see ó I thought all the low-riders had moved up to Espanola. The plaza is completely decked out in Christmas lights ó everything is wrapped and draped in lights; the trees, the band shell, the bank, the Governorís Place, the iron fence surrounding the snow covered lawn ó red, green, blue, white; blinking on and off.

I get to the very center of the plaza and start turning in circles for some reason and staring up through the barren trees, very drunk, seeing the big moon overhead ó something like one of those early bad foreign films with subtitles and I start feeling very sorry for myself and conjure up all this stuff about my father and the play I just finished in San Francisco which deals with his death and all that stuff and the whole thing just becomes a god-awful drunken mess of emotional indulgence in the past!!

At one point Iím crying out to the moon and the heavens in a drunken wail, thinking thereís no one around and all of a sudden I see someone walking straight towards me across the plaza ó not a cop, just a person but itís so shocking to see another human being ó and this is part of what I was trying to tell you down there in Deming in the coffee shop ó how it sometimes feels as though I am absolutely unaware of anyone else existing in this life that I wonder to what extent I am cut off from other people ó how far have I removed myself into this totally ridiculous state of isolation???