Dangerous Compassions

New Mexico


Hello, readers.  I’ve been learning about New Spain as occurred in New Mexico.  It’s really uncomfortable because it’s rearranging a lot in my head.  Things I fully believed are not true.  Sometimes learning hurts.

Ming sent me this link about Santa Fe de Neuvo Mexico.

It hurts because it relates to my personal mythology about my ancestors and origins.  My mom’s side of the family was from New Mexico for a long time–centuries.  A lot of things I didn’t understand until I looked at my family tree, after my mom died.  When I was young, I thought all that didn’t matter.

Honestly it had to do with my queerness.  I was afraid of my ancestors, like those cranky dead people wouldn’t have liked me anyway.  Why should I study them?  The past felt like a trap.  I was future-oriented, longing for change and progress, dodging a scary past where I was supposed to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.  Married to an asshole dude who drank too much, birthing more kids than I could care for.

Revisioning the whole New Mexico story I had in my head feels destabilizing.  It’s kind of silly because I’m the same person I ever  was–this flesh and bone is still me, no difference.  But how we frame things can affect a lot.

Nueva Mexicana

I have a friend in Albuquerque, a peace activist also.  I like her very much, but when Ming and I were in Albuquerque on our roadtrip to New Mexico, I was feeling sick and couldn’t visit with her.  Totally wiped out, I rested in the hostel room, just breathing, as Ming met with our friend in the hostel’s common room.  It was an emotional trip, and my health was suffering from the stress.

This friend told me in a message later–I didn’t know you were Nueva Mexicana.  I felt welcomed and embraced, like she was claiming me.  There was a joy to that statement, that being Nueva Mexicana is a thing.  Not like–this state is an accident of place, randomly anywhere.  I realized deeper that New Mexico is a very special coming together of cultures, oppressions, land forms, struggle, love.

a lark

Yes, I was there visiting New Mexico to learn about my mom’s mom and that whole side of the family.  It felt like a lark–oh, I will go there and see if I learn something.  It was a romantic idea.

Wow, be careful what you wish for.  I had no idea that I would learn there about the Trinity bomb test.

One clue led to another until I was knocked on my ass, blown away by understanding of violence, racism, and what really happened in New Mexico to affect the family I grew up in, where I was born in California.  Oh ok–that’s why __________.


Thank you for hearing this tale.  Did it ever happen to you, that you thought something about your origins, and found out it was all wrong?  Did that feel scary for you?

I’m sorry I’m vague in what I’m telling you.  I’m in the middle of change, and some secrets aren’t mine to tell.  I pop into the learning, then have to take long breaks.  I peek into the past and take in as much as I can take.  Then I retreat to the present, to understand what I just encountered and integrate those truths and the feelings they create.

Long ago I wish people had told me much more, when I was a kid.  But I can’t blame them for wanting to move forward.  Some things are so yuck, and denial is a common coping strategy.  But family history full of holes–of course I was confused.

sacred work

You can’t choose your ancestors.  People did very bad things and very good.  You can thank them, honor them, and take the gifts they handed you to do your sacred work in the world.  There’s so much to be seen, known, cherished, protected, loved, tended, prayed for, fought for.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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