Embraced by Santa Fe: An Afternoon of Unexpected Connections and Shared Stories

June 22, 2024

Embraced by Santa Fe: An Afternoon of Unexpected Connections and Shared Stories

May 29, 2023

Chip’s Note: Sonali has been a remarkable addition to our MEA leadership team here in Santa Fe. After reading this, you may consider moving here as well.

Earlier last week, I decided to treat myself to a margarita at one of Santa Fe's upscale restaurants. The city was buzzing with tourists in town for the literary convention, and every place was packed. I found a cozy spot at the bar, sipping my drink and losing myself in a good book.

Before long, a pair of younger women visiting from Colorado slid onto the stools next to me. We struck up a conversation, exchanging that vibrant energy unique to Santa Fe. They were curious about the best spots in town to visit, see art - so I shared a few of my favorite recommendations.

Shortly after, an older woman took the seat on my other side. She looked visibly shaken, and every so often, her eyes filled with tears. One of the young women noticed and gently asked if she was a local or just visiting. The woman quietly responded that she lived here and had been attending an author session at the convention.

What unfolded next was a beautiful testament to the spirit of Santa Fe. The woman confided that she had lost her husband just a week ago and this was her first time out of the house since. Without hesitation, I leaned over and gave her a comforting hug, telling her she didn’t have to feel alone. The young girls joined in, and we ended up spending two hours with her.

During those hours, she shared profound and beautiful wisdom with us—nuggets of life experience that spanned decades. We laughed, cried, and connected in a way that felt timeless. At one point, I asked the younger woman how old she was. She replied that they were both 23. The older woman, with a touch of pride in her voice, expressed how this intergenerational exchange had given her a much-needed boost after losing her partner of 56 years.

This experience encapsulates why I love it here in Santa Fe. It's a place where strangers become friends, where age gaps dissolve in the face of genuine connection, and where the shared human experience is celebrated in the most unexpected moments. Santa Fe isn’t just a city; it’s a community that embraces you, no matter who you are or what you’re going through.

-Sonali

Born and raised in Texas, MEA alum and manager Sonali Kumar has spent 17 years in the hospitality industry, excelling in hotels, restaurants, and start-ups. Her passion for customer service and expertise in sales and marketing have been instrumental in growing numerous businesses and creating unforgettable experiences.

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