Monday, June 27, 2011

Nonnie in Albuquerque

That’s me, spring of ’77, on the day I moved out of my shot-gun apartment in Lesbian Nation. I moved many times during the six years I spent in Albuquerque, but that was one of my more dramatic moves. I came home from a performance tour and a teaching gig with the National Endowment for the Arts late one night to find all the little buildings around my apartment had been torn down.  My back porch was gone, too.  I’d been away for six weeks and sometime during the first week my landlord sold his tiny corner of the city.  Everyone else got a fairly timely eviction notice, but I didn’t see mine until the deal
was long done. I had two days to move out.  Bummer.
My boyfriend Ted helped me move down to my brother Ric and his wife’s place in the part of town we all called the South Valley.  My dog, Rousseau, all my stuff, and I only stayed one night because the very next day I found my best apartment ever, and we moved everything all over again.  Taking the apartment was a financial leap-from $80 a month to $150, but I was counting on our dance company getting a big grant from the state of New Mexico.  Actually the money, which came through, was federal, but distributed through state governments.  Things like that used to happen, you know? Money for the arts and all.

My new apartment was only two blocks from our dance studio-which was excellent, given my penchant for working at odd hours and the strange behavior of my car, a giant, bluey blue 1953 Cadillac.  The new apartment was marvelous.  It had four bay windows, wood floors, a big kitchen, a shady balcony, an extra bedroom, some funky mahogany furniture (and dreadful stuff I had to disguise) and it sat on top of an empty storefront which meant the place was quiet and private and good for parties

So, the move to 7th St. turned out well, despite the shock of finding Lesbian Nation (my name for the neighborhood) torn down.  It looked like a war zone.  I’d had a good year there, though. Except for a seldom seen married couple on my left, all my neighbors on that sunny corner were lesbians. This was just past the bra-burning days of the women’s movement, and my friends were proudly, brilliantly, “out.”  Mistakes were made, however.  My neighbors on the right, two University of New Mexico students, decided that one of the freedoms they would fight for was the freedom to go topless.  Men could, of course, and the idea was for things to be equal in every way.  Maryanne and Connie took their toplessness to their screened-in porch facing Mariposa Street.  The experiment only lasted a few nights.  My friends sat on their porch, with the ceiling light burning, and tried to ignore the fleets of rude men and boys who drove around our block, loudly commenting on Maryanne and Connie’s choices and honking their horns. That was a raucous, raunchy week; I was glad when they gave it up and put their shirts back on.

I keep coming up with corny things to write about being young during the 1970s in Albuquerque.  It really was something, though.  An era.  There were fearsome rough spots, but, man, I’m glad all that is with me, hanging out in the mystery of my brain.  I danced through that decade.  Pretty damn cool. 


Karen said...

Pretty Damn Cool indeed! Would love to read more about your time there ~

Martin heavisides said...

Spent about half a day in Albuqurque once, on our way to visit a friend in Taos. Only saw the airport with its somewhat distinctive decor, and the local Hilton, also very distinctive--second floor railing like in a Western set, but elegant and stylish. Must have been an interesting city to live in.