In case you aren’t already aware, if you’re in a musical set in New York City, you are probably wishing you were in Santa Fe.
For example: In Rent, the young artists talk about leaving behind their beautifully tragic bohemian lifestyles and opening a restaurant in Santa Fe. Rather than being in cold, harsh New York, they will escape to an easy existence in the sunshine. They won’t have to discuss philosophy and there will be no cockroaches. They will finally be able have a stable income, living the simple life.
In Newsies, 17-year-old Jack Kelly envisions a land of cowboys, full of fresh air. Far from the hustle and bustle of the newspaper-driven world he lives in, Santa Fe has freedom. He doesn’t need a real family, he’s got Santa Fe.
It was because of these stories that Santa Fe was originally on my must-see list. I had to know what was so great. But the more I talked to people who had been to New Mexico, the more I heard the cities weren’t much to write home about, and all very similar to boot. At one point I was specifically told I could skip Santa Fe and just visit Old Town Albuquerque to get the same feel. My host in Albuquerque, a New Mexican native, generally agreed with this assessment.
And I started to realize, all those people that sang about Santa Fe had never actually been to Santa Fe. All of those characters were born and raised in New York City and, spoiler alert, none of them go to Santa Fe in the end. The dream of Santa Fe is just that, a dream.
I’ve never been to Santa Fe. But if I were to make a guess, I’d say it’s probably very hot and dry. I’d say there are a lot of touristy shops, and some very old mission churches. I’d say it’s dusty, and if Albuquerque is any indication, they still have cockroaches.
But as long as you don’t go to Santa Fe, as long as it’s still your dream, then the show isn’t over. You still have a happy ending waiting for you, or at least a bittersweet but hopeful one. With that and a two hour detour in mind, I opted not to go to Santa Fe myself. This whole trip is a dream made into a reality, but perhaps some things are better left dreams.
Like Santa Fe.