Some people have a type. The obvious is the type one has in their partners. Some like women with blonde hair. Women, if you’ve ever changed your hair color from something other than blonde to blonde, you know what I mean. Men… sorry I don’t have enough experience to give you a correlation on that one. Some like women who are smart. I’m pretty sure all women like men who are smart. Some like funny. Some like rich, although I don’t know if that’s a type-thing or just general laziness in not wanting to work. And then there are the more fun types – our types that are for things. Personally, I’m a cheese type. I like anything with cheese on it. Or sugar… I’m definitely a sugar type. I love sugar things, cookies especially, and of those peanut butter cookies especially. Now you might be wondering what my type is, other than cheese and peanut butter cookies that is, but really this isn’t completely about types, at least not those types. Why? Because I wonder if having a type isn’t indicative of something more, something much more mysterious, instinctive perhaps, something that’s always in us.
Take cheese for example. I didn’t always like cheese. I used to take the cheese off everything it was on, or ask that it be left off. Of course, this was in my childhood when I wouldn’t eat anything except beef, chicken, fried bologna, eggs, bacon, lettuce, green beans and black-eyed peas — no bread, and absolutely no mayo or salad dressing of any kind. I loved milk though, still do, so my disdain for cheese made no sense; after all, cheese is milk. But my first experience with cheese was one of those moments in life one never forgets, so it pushed the love of cheese into the forefront.
I was with my father. We had gone to a cow auction. I can’t remember if at that time we had our first two cows boarded out at the horse place just outside Calgary, or if it was before my dad had bought any of the cows that would come to define my youth. I was about 9. It was a particularly cold afternoon, and I was hungry, crazy hungry. The auction house had a little café, the kind where there are bar stools. It had tables too, but that was the first of many countless times I would eat with my dad at a bar stool. Over my protestations that I don’t like cheese, apparently something he was tired of hearing, he ordered me a cheeseburger. He told me to try it, and if I didn’t like it, he’d get one without cheese. I knew he wouldn’t, so I was worried. I watched the cheeseburger get made, smoke filling the entire space, and still to this day I remember how utterly amazing it seemed. And so at my father’s and my stomach’s urgings, I tried it – my first burger with cheese, and I was forever changed. That burger was magic, and in that instant, my father’s type of burger became mine. A burger must have cheese.
Then there are the types that change and change often. Think of all those shoes, jackets and hair styles we tossed out in favor of something better, something more stylish, something that was a better type. Who amongst us grew up with hunter green carpeting? Or how about that harvest gold refrigerator? And mind you, harvest gold might have been an improvement over my family’s fridge in the 1970s — a hold-back from the 50s, our turquoise refrigerator, in the harvest gold kitchen. All of that gave way to 1980s black lacquer, not that I ever had that, but I would be willing to bet some of us still do. My type? My type was never that. I would never have been the person who decorated an entire house in the color of the year. I liked antiques, things that are so old they are always in style. Lately I think a lot of my taste in houses. I look at house pictures, draw little house plans for fun, dreaming of the day I can rebuild my own house. Thinking I was influenced by my other trips to (and through) New Mexico, I thought of my most recent trip to Santa Fe trip as a way to further what I think of as my new influence, my taste for things that look New Mexico-ish.
I was thinking of the first thing I ever bought for my first place I ever lived alone – my dorm room in my first year of college. I’m not talking about the 80s pastel color-splash comforters my mother bought for me; I’m talking about a print I taped on the wall. Most kids were taping up their rock stars, their inspirational messages, their photos. Me? I wanted art. There was a store on the main street the kids called “The Drag.” It was next to the place that played French movies, and the store sold posters, posters of art. I went into the store to buy my first piece of art, a poster by the artist Georgia O’Keefe. It was black and white, something 80s minimalistic, at least in my mind, but it had something to it that struck me. I didn’t remember the poster, other than its color, and its mood, a mixture of anger, solace, mystery, something that drew me in. It had words on the bottom I no longer remember. It became my first décor. I was proud of it. I thought it gave me some definitive taste when, to me, the world around me had nothing to offer but immaturity. I watched those French movies too, but that’s a whole different story. I would eventually frame the poster, but the poster would be short-lived in my life as a broken pipe in my apartment some three years later would claim it. And Georgia O’Keefe, and whatever her art represented, faded from my memory.
Before my recent trip to Santa Fe I was looking for things to eat in Santa Fe. In my research I came across mention of the museum that is a tribute to one of Santa Fe’s most famous artists, the New Yorker transplant Georgia O’Keefe who decided to move to the Santa Fe area after a vacation from New York and then painted flowers and desert scenes inspired by the area. I identify with that story, not that I am moving there, but the look of that place is influencing all of those house plans I draw for fun. And I yearn for that kind of freedom, that kind of artistic expression, that kind of talent. And of course, my first real thing I ever bought – that poster I could remember as only a black and white, moody thing that drew me in, was a Georgia O’Keefe, so I thought a peek in that museum would reveal something to me.
On our last day, I did just that, peeked into the museum while my family stayed outside admiring a tree. Admission to the gift shop was free, so that’s where I did my major peeking. Much like the poster store on that street we called “The Drag,” they had posters for sale. I flipped through them, all colorful flowers, expecting one of them to hit me, but … nothing. Then I came across a particular black and white poster. Not sure why, I stopped on that poster and really looked at it. It was black and white. It has these words on the bottom: “Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival” and dates in 1978. And then I remembered. That was my poster. It was of a mountain, with a streak of white looking almost like lightening, and that image gave me the exact reaction, it was moody and drew me in. I fought back tears, seriously, actual tears. What hit me was the realization that the art, and even the words on the poster, this reference to Santa Fe, represented a type that would come to define me, and was always there even when I was an 18 year-old girl who simply bought some poster of art she liked without knowing what it was about.
So that’s what this party is – a party where one tiny memory ties everything together, a party where we pay tribute to those things that have always been inside us, especially when we don’t realize it until something comes full circle, a party to honor our type. Oh and next month, I have another short trip, a trip to visit my dad. I think we will go to a café somewhere, sit at the bar stools and have cheeseburgers. I so love eating cheeseburgers on bar stools with my dad.