As I sit here this morning debating the necessity of making a 50 mile round trip into Taos I realize how times have changed. This was once a twice a week routine.
I belonged to a gym in Taos. I had friends there I met for lunch. I did almost all my shopping there except for the trips to the more distant Santa Fe with a Sam's Club, a Lowe's and a Home Depot. Now I seldom go to Santa Fe and only a couple times a month to Taos. And that usually with a friend so we can share gas expenses.
I live in a rural community which depends upon tourism for its livelihood. That is down and the resort has made layoffs. Because of that the tax base for the village is down and they have made layoffs. I have a rental unit which is seldom empty, but it is now. So are lots in the area which once had a shortage of affordable rental housing. So my income is suffering there. And I am an artist. Less art being sold these days.
It is not a new story for many people and yet a CNN news poll said that 3% of the country still felt the economy was strong. G.W.Bush has to be one of those 3% and I would assume his cabinet the rest. And isn't the margin of error on most polls 3%?
What hit me this morning as I looked at the must get list which has been growing beside my computer is the gap between the forced shopping local and the local stores being able to accommodate our needs. They are getting better but not quite there yet. All the little retail stores switched to bare essentials when the big box stores in bigger towns sprung up. Now they are having to reconsider their market needs. The grocery store here is doing a pretty good job of it. So is the local hardware. Can't always get it when you want it but they can order it in for Thursday.
And there are the friendships. I have quite a few friends in Taos. We met rather routinely when I was over there for errands. We did lunch. Now that I am there less frequently my list grows to the point that lunch just isn't possible time or money wise. So once close personal relationships are now e-mail affairs. Taos and Angel Fire used to be neighbor cities and now we are rapidly becoming strangers. With the help of blogs I have closer connections to friends in Australia. We have not quite gotten it that the high price of gas is changing not just our economy but our friendships. It is difficult to think regionally let alone globally.
I definitely don't have any warm and fuzzy feelings for the oil companies or OPEC or the current administration. I remember being in this place in the 70's and everyone talked of solutions that obviously nobody put into effect because of the huge political clout of Exxon, etc. I certainly hope this time will be different but somehow I doubt it. That 3% that think the economy is solid are the ones pulling all the strings.
Oh, and I am having a difficult time even feeling sorry for the rest of the country with the announced $4.00/gallon prices. We have been over $4.00 for weeks.