If I write or read “light at the end of the tunnel” one more time, I will tear out what remaining hair I have left.

There is no question we have turned the corner — there are people on the streets, in the shops and restaurants and, most important for me, in the beds at the Inn on the Alameda.

What has this past year been like? Like waiting for Christmas, Hanukkah, your birthday and the Fourth of July all rolled into one.

Like waiting for the bell to ring at the end of Algebra 3 class, or to get out of the dentist chair, or for school to end and summer to begin.

That is a lot of waiting.

But finally the wait is ending, and it could not have come sooner.

The inn is rehiring, though the stimulus checks and enhanced unemployment currently compete with our ability to attract employees. We are restaffing at a steady pace and the phones are finally ringing off the hooks again.

We made it through to see the return of our daffodils and tulips lifting their heads from their beds; we see the lilacs, wisteria, forsythia, aspens and rosebushes starting to wipe the sleep out of their emerging buds.

For many avid gardeners like myself, this can actually be the most beautiful time of year, the awakening of dormant plants and the annual return of migrating birds on vacation for the winter. Even though summer’s tumultuous tapestry of colors is a month or two away, you can see what’s coming.

The inn is good to go. A year ago, I scratched my head speculating what the “new normal” would be like. Well, it appears it will just be a better old normal.

And as we eventually let our masks down, we can see friends’ faces again. And tourists will return now that we made it through the dark year.

America is a country founded on travel, all the way over the Atlantic from Europe and then across the Great Plains, over the Rockies and on to the Pacific Ocean. We are a country of travelers, itching to get out of our cocoons, spread our wings and take off with the freedom we have grown to expect as almost our birthright.

Now, every day will be safer, brighter, fresher, freer, better appreciated. So, we wait to welcome all of our regular returning guests and to meet new ones.

This can be a wonderful time for all of Santa Fe if we recommit ourselves to the real tri-cultural uniqueness of our City Different and never again slip backward to a period of racial and cultural tensions we saw break out during the pandemic.

I assure you that when we make it through this and start to “people up” again, it will make having made it through truly a gift to all of us. See you soon when I can see your faces.

Making It Through is a weekly column by Santa Feans in business who are dealing with the issues created by the pandemic. Joe Schepps is the president and co-owner of the Inn on the Alameda and has lived in New Mexico for 50 years.

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