“Those meter guys were writing tickets like, here take that, and then on to the next car. Don’t bother coming back to Santa Fe, and it’s the weekend! That’s the barometer of my city — hurry hurry write that ticket. Once it’s done it’s done.”
Suddenly he stands, positioning his legs a few feet apart, he leans over, picks up his keys and his phone.
“ Come on let’s go for a quick creep.”
“Cruise the plaza, get you outdoors, come on it’ll make you feel better.”
“I’m not dressed for outdoors..”
“Put on a pair of low-brow boots and a jacket. Not fashioning this afternoon. You won’t even get out of the car. Come on.”
I listened because Loren is definitive in decisions. He doesn’t waver back and forth or want to argue. I rushed upstairs, zipped up my boots and grabbed a down jacket. He was standing by the window.
“ We have 20 minutes,” he said pointing to his watch.
We hopped into his silver VW GTI ,and he told me to pick a CD. I shuffled through the stack, while he backed out. Just then I noticed a car pull out across Palace Avenue.
“ Loren! Watch out!”
“I got it.” He leaned back, shot eyeball calmness to me and asked what CD I wanted to hear.
He didn’t scold me for my alarm and doubt. After that I knew my caution was unnecessary. You learn a lot about a man by his driving. It’s a graph of his responsiveness, confidence, and how he handles sudden movement. Loren cruised over the icy asphalt and into the empty Plaza, all white and brown like a two envelopes sitting side by side. He was now slouching back, one hand on the wheel, messing with something in the open compartment, and driving 15 mph. There weren’t a lot of cars, but I had the feeling Loren didn’t care if there was someone behind us. We drove past Santa Fe Dry Goods, and he stopped, “Empty — that’s sad. No one buying fuzzy boots or hats.” He drove by every shop and looked in, as if he was monitoring shopping trends. His eyes swept the streets, the alleyways, and I mimicked him, because I knew this was for me. We went slow as a couple of tired horses, so the eyes could bring in the unknown: a homeless man on a corner, the Indian woman selling jewelry, the jewelers smoking cigarettes, and a few locals trotting back to work from a break. I looked up to the sky and found a patch of blue, and pointed it out to Loren, and he turned to me and said, “I’m happy you noticed.”
“It’s two o’clock already.” I said.
“How’d it get to be two o’clock?” Loren kept the engine at crawl speed all the way back to the house. “You have to go to Santa Fe Spa — at least go see people! And go after six.” I nodded my head as I got out of the car, went inside, turned on the Rolling Stones and danced.