August In Alamosa
For those of you who read my last column, you’re very well aware that Summer and I are not friends. We’ve tried to get along, but unfortunately, we don’t have much in common. So, when the opportunity arose that would allow me to escape New York for all of August, or the Devil’s month as I call it, I jumped at the chance.
One of the most exciting things about being a playwright is that sometimes my work takes me to places I could’ve never expected. In early February, I received an email that I was invited to be an artist-in-residence and a guest lecturer at a local university. Did I end up on the beaches in Cancun? Or a European adventure? Even better. I went to Alamosa, Colorado.
Where is Alamosa? Good question. Up until that email, I couldn’t have told you. Even now, if you were to put a map in front of me, I probably couldn’t point it out. Alamosa is a city in the San Luis Valley in south-central Colorado, about four hours from Denver. It’s most known for the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Rio Grande that flows through the town, and Adams State University, where I would be spending the majority of my time.
There are two ways into Alamosa – driving, or a connecting flight from Denver. As a New Yorker, my driving skills are…questionable, and driving across the country to a state I’ve never been too would’ve ensured my parents never sleep again. I opted to fly. I’m not a good flyer. I assume every touch of turbulence is basically knocking on death’s door. When I discovered the small propeller plane that sat six people max was how I would be making my journey, I considered turning right around and heading home. I willed myself onto the plane with all of my courage, and clutched my seat as I watched the pilot crawl into the tiny cockpit. Nothing churns the stomach quite like watching a grown man enter an aircraft on his hands and knees, but, miraculously, we landed without issue.
View from my plane seat.
I arrived in Alamosa and was greeted by Lexie (whose name I changed, for the purpose of this article). Lexie worked in the art department at ASU and had been my point of contact. She drove me past a stretch of beautiful farmland that seemed to be never ending. There wasn’t another soul or car in sight, and I wondered to myself if Lexie was the only resident in Alamosa.
Turns out, she wasn’t. As we drove through Main Street – yes, it was truly the main street – I was taken on a sightseeing tour. The town was beyond charming, and I learned of all the staples. Like the Saturday farmer’s market with the Amish baked goods that were a must have. Or the creepy man who looked like an extended member of the Addams Family who helped locals with their back pain at his doctor’s office. Or the cozy coffee shop that was deemed a historical landmark – literally.
Milagros Coffee House. An Alamosa staple and historical landmark. Photo by: alamosanews.com
Alamosa felt like home immediately. I spent the month writing plays, catching up on TV and books, speaking with the incredibly dedicated students and faculty in the theatre department at ASU, and exploring this weird, friendly, stunning little town. I got to live the small town life for a little while, and I loved it. I loved that everyone was within one degree of separation, and the quirky locals that everyone knew, like the woman who worked at the drive thru liquor store and would share her life story as she swiped your card.
Being in Alamosa reminded me of all of the things that I take for granted living in New York. While I was there, the town rallyed together to throw their first ever LGBTQ Pride event. To see a community that had never experienced Pride together create such a success was unbelievable. Also, and almost equally as important, my Starbucks coffee order was $2 cheaper than it is in the City. I felt like I had entered a whole new tax bracket.
While I love all of the things New York has to offer round-the-clock, it was exciting to slow down, breathe fresh air, and experience a different schedule for 30 days. I would’ve never visited Alamosa on my own accord, but I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the unexpected.
Alyssa Haddad is a Brooklyn-based Playwright and Screenwriter. Her plays have been presented at the Capital Repertory Theatre, Theater for the New City, Sundog Theatre, Kraine Theater, and The Midtown International Theatre Festival where she was the recipient of the Playwright’s Award. She is an alumna of Living Room Theater’s New Play Incubator Lab and a current member of New Perspectives Theatre Company’s Women’s Work Play Lab. She is also an Artist-In-Residence at Adams State University’s Rare AIR program. Connect with Alyssa at AlyssaHaddad.com, on Twitter @AlyssaSwagdad and on Instagram @AlyssaHaddad.