New Mexicans, generally, native New Mexicans especially, have a sense of history, and I can see that it plays a role in shaping their identities. It might be more noticeable to me because that dynamic is absent in the people who live, generally, in the small Michigan town I grew up in, New Buffalo, population 2,500. I know very little of my history, and in New Buffalo people didn't talk about where their ancestors were from or how they got to New Buffalo. I dont think it ever occurred to us.
A women from my home town who's interested in preserving the town's old buildings (and is fighting a losing battle) posted on Facebook the other day a link to a blog article by a New Buffalo woman in which she tells a story about how the mayor is using all kinds of chicanery and questionable legal maneuverings to turn the town over to out of town developers. The town's location on Lake Michigan, 35 miles across the lake from Chicago, about 65 miles by highway, has always meant it was a somewhat resort town during the summer, but it's become a lot more so in recent years and that process is hastening
Within a day of that posting another old building came down and Judi posted a picture someone had taken with their cell phone, a rear shot looking toward the main street. I knew that building pretty well. I had friends who lived in the apartments there, like Larry Lloyd who came in second in the state in the shot put and was silly when he got drunk.
My father, Maurice Conway, after he retired from truck driving, sold real estate for Mike Kerhoulas, a nice Greek man who had an insurance agency/real estate business in the storefront part that faced the main street. I didn't think of my dad as a salesman type but he did pretty good at it. He got the May family, some southerners, into the old Kissman home down the road from us. I remember them talking in our living room. "Oh," I remember Mr May saying. "I can always get a four or five dollar an hour job." That was enough, apparently, in the early 1970s to get the loan.
That time was as contended as I'd ever seen my father, but it didn't last long. He was gone in a couple years from cancer.
Change is why I left New Buffalo and don't often contemplate going back. I can fully identify with people who are uncomfortable with the changes that have taken place in New Mexico owing to the influx of outsiders. Having been on both sides of that equation, though, I can also appreciate what my old friend, Ken Sade, meant when he told me, "Change is the essence of life." Every time change occurs I repeat that phrase to myself. Sometimes it takes awhile but eventually it sinks in.