Dating in Santa Fe—Not for the Faint Hearted
by Katie Mehrer
Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Land of Enchantment.” The rosy sunsets, the evening glow on the mountains, the big blue skies, the desert’s pastel hues, the native Americans living in harmony with the earth . . . the place where bachelors come to die. Oh, that’s just mean, but the fact of the matter is, there are more single men over fifty in this town than any other American town of its size, per capita. For a single white girl in her thirties, it’s hard to find a date that’s not from a radically different culture or outside a 15-year age range. As a result, I’ve dated in both of those categories, and without regret.
For centuries, this place has had a strong Hispanic population. Add to that the many Native Americans who have settled here since antiquity. These cultures have a long history of either killing each other or marrying each other or both, so overall I’d say they had enough trouble without us newcomers. But somehow Santa Fe got popular with outsiders, folks like me, and we have populated the town and infused it with a lot of weird ideas at which this land’s original settlers can only shake their heads with wonder.
Maybe it was Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Steiglitz and their well-documented, romantic escape from New York to romp in the canyons of Abiqui—their wild motorbike adventures through the valleys, kicking up dust devils and befriending tarantulas before heading home to paint cow skulls and cala lilies. Ever since those pioneers of the bizarre and exploratory went about photographing their rugged new lives, other lovers of the romantic, the adventurous, the unusual, and the beautiful have been flocking here to see what dust they could kick up. As a result, it has become a haven for tourists, a major U.S. art gallery center, a nexus for New Age believers and healers of all stripes, a gay and lesbian destination, and a magnet for outdoorsy people and hippies.
Just using myself as a random example of someone who has lived here for nearly a decade, I can tell you that while looking for mister right, I have dated:
- A man who first came here to join a spiritual cult
- A man who first came here to study oriental medicine
- A Hispanic sculptor
- A man with gay parents
- A man who came here to join others who chant “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”
- A fine-artist
- A massage therapist
- A ballroom dancer
- A guy who claims to have a flying machine he can strap to his back
- A professional pool shark
- Lots of guys having mid-life crises
Those are just the people I meet going about my everyday business, and I have actually found lasting love. I’ve never been so adventurous as to meet men in bars or to venture out to singles hotspots, largely because I don’t handle liquor well and there aren’t any singles hotspots in Santa Fe. There used to be a disco, but it closed down after a few years. Another one opened, but it didn’t make it either. There used to be a salsa dancing club too, but the economy just killed it. Now they dance salsa in various hotel lobbies and VFW halls around town, wherever DJ’s can afford the space.
Social environments here are pretty limited because, as I’ve mentioned, it isn’t a young people’s town. It is a town of navel-gazers, poor artists, rich old second-home owners, and divorced pop-psychology enthusiasts. I’d say the most active daters are new age singles into real estate and the healing arts. So if you are interested in—and I’m reading out of the community announcements in the newspaper here—Empowerment through the Tibetan Book of the Dead; Ishvara, who exemplifies the realness of the New Consciousness and the New Human; becoming a medical intuitive; integrating the body, mind, and spirit through breath; Emotional Freedom Technique; Mother Meera, who offers her Transformative Power to all; JOHREI, the channeling of Divine Light and Love; or would like to participate in any of a number of Women’s Dream Circles, which promise to explore the psychic creativity that holds profound wisdom and guidance, then you might actually be able to get a lot of dates around here.
Many people actually move here on the assumption that because Santa Fe is so steeped in such a variety of healing arts, there must be a lot of healthy people here who have their minds, bodies, and spirits fully integrated and realized. Actually no, just the opposite. There are a lot of head cases here who came because they need healing really bad, but despite our town’s many many offerings in that realm, they don’t getting it. Basically, I’m saying I’m surrounded by crazies.
But, there are places to go to meet sane singles. I don’t know how they do it in your town, but here the place to see and be seen is the Whole Foods supermarket. Our local paper, in its annual “Best of Santa Fe” issue, actually voted the grocery store the “best place to meet singles.” You can probably meet singles in the local Albertson’s or Smith’s, I suppose, if you really try, but if you go into Whole Foods, the fact of the matter is, you will see women dressed up. Short skirts, high heels, unseasonably revealing dresses, you name it. I have been tempted to cover children’s eyes while ogling some of the outfits I see on people in the produce section itself. For men, the Whole Foods look is careless: an untucked microfiber outdoorsy shirt paired with cargo shorts in the winter and flip flops; or it could be hip: layered silk-screened T-shirts, a goatee, lots of silver bracelets, and bookish rectangular glasses; or it could be rugged: wear your full complement of ski or mountain-biking gear, as if you just came off the mountain and are still feeling the random erotic mania that only hard exercise can give you.
So, Santa Fe is a complex town. If you like far-out psychology, you have a chance. If you like dressing up to go grocery shopping, you have a chance. If you are old and rich, you have a chance. Or if, like me, you are open-minded and willing to date way outside the usual parameters, then you too have a chance.