This house in the picture above was my Grandma’s (who was originally a Romero)and her mother before her. The house stands on the west side of the Taos Pueblo plaza facing the plaza eastward towards the main buildings and the race track.
As a boy I remember many, many visits to this house where my great grandmother lived. Originally it didn’t have a front entrance and it was made for storage of grain and corn. If you ever come to visit, I will show you the original entrance from the house to the right of the open sign which was the original building that my Grandma and her sisters grew up in. The house was basically taken away from them by their cousin who was the only boy in the family. He was a mean man, as I recall, and he and my Grandma never really had a good relationship because he stole the house from them as soon as their father (his Uncle) died.
On the southwesterly side was a huge entrance to the plaza from the west side and the family in back made a room that closed off the alley. Now, when they lift the pole up for the big Sept. 30th celebration, it’s always difficult to pull in from the west side. You don’t think about it, but there’s always a reason why things were done the way they were done.
By the time I was at an age where I understood adult politics much of the old house was in disarray, however, as I got older (and because I was the only boy) I became the caretaker of the house in the village. Trust me, it’s not an easy task to shovel snow and plaster yearly. I don’t mind all that much, it gives me a sense of purpose and it brought me to a life that I eventually came to honor and live. As a young man I never knew what I was going to go through and I think as young men we sort of plow through everything like wild boars. As you get older things begin to come in more clearly with a sense of identity and knowledge.
As the years passed on, even with all those years of taking care of my Grandma’s house, I thought that I might lose it to one of my older relatives who, at the time, was drinking heavily and basically wanted to sell his jewelry in there to the tourists that come in abundance to see the village.
However, that summer, him and his family moved to Sante Fe and I ended up taking care of the property once again. It was about that time that a family meeting was called because there was some ownership issues with the uncles and aunties.
I remember sitting in the meeting with maybe 12 or 13 of us and listening to my Grandma say, ” The house will belong to whoever takes care of it.” Everyone around the table knew that I was the only one who took care of that house since as long as they could recall. Nobody showed up to shovel off the snow that winter and nobody plastered the front or the back that September before the feast.
One day Grandma told me, “This house is yours … take care of it.” I must have been about 16 or 17 as I was still in high school.
In my early twenties I decided to buy some adobe and build a back room because all the neighbors were dumping their snow in my area and it was slowly eroding my walls so the best thing to do was to enclose the room and build a structure in between three walls and build it from the inside out. It was the first huge building project I ever attacked, but I finished it and it gave me a sense of worthiness and identity that was badly needed at the time.
The rest you might say is family history. We all have them – those battles of small plots that mean nothing to us as little kids. But then you realize as you get older that everything that gave you self worth was what you always cherished without reason or want or desire.
Once again another path of inspiration, not necessarily from another person, but from a small adobe home that didn’t mean that much, but became the identity and outlet to the world and to my fans who I love dearly.
Many crazy and loving ceremonial aspects have happened within these doors and they’re still walking through them. I’m glad I shoveled thousands and thousands of snowflakes to protect the ancestral world of my Grandma and her mother before her.
With love and beauty, yours truly,