when i lived in new mexico in the 80s, i worked at an upscale restaurant called the artichoke cafe. the kitchen staff wore starched white linen aprons and everyone seemed to come from outside new mexico. i fit right in there. my boyfriend was in grad school and we moved our things into what was once a store front. each of the stores had been converted to living spaces or studios and our next door neighbor was the dark and controversial photographer, joel peter witkin. i was 22 or 23 and completely scared of him at the time. i think we chatted only once or twice. a few years later i was living in SF with a heart so broken you could see it all over my face. he had an exhibit at the fraenkel gallery around the corner from the bookstore where i worked. a boy at the bookstore whom i was in love with and who clearly didn’t “like” girls wanted to go to the opening, so we went. when i approached joel to say hello, he not only recognized me immediately, he told me the girl i was dumped for had nothing over me. he said a few other things – almost like a girlfriend would say to comfort you. i felt like kissing him. back at the artichoke cafe though, before all that, i worked in the kitchen with an incredibly cute guy who came from paris. i think he was in albuquerque because his american wife was studying alternative medicine. one day he brought to work the most beautiful red tomatoes from his garden and offered me one. he said this is how you eat a tomato from the garden and he cut it in half, put a little sea salt on top and popped it in his mouth. i was dazzled obviously because i think of it at least once every summer.