Since 2004, I have written the column "Know Your Neighbor." The "neighbors" featured in this column live near all of us and form a part of the greater Taos community. Another definition of the word "neighbor" favors one who lives next door. I often wondered about the possibility of interviewing and sharing my own actual neighbor with the readers. Vanessa Frésquez agreed to my request, and we conducted the interview/conversation at my kitchen table in El Prado. This current segment is the result of our collaboration.
What's better, small town or big city life? The answer depends on the person you ask and that person's experiences. Vanessa Frésquez of El Prado has lived in both situations, and her opinion varied throughout the years. At present, she prefers the more intimate setting of a smaller community.
Frésquez, the daughter of V. David and Rita (Vigil) Frésquez grew up in a small community alongside her sister Amanda (Valentin Gallegos Jr.). She attended St. Francis School from kindergarten to fifth grade. Then, young Vanessa attended Taos Middle School. She played basketball from second grade until her graduation from Taos High in 2007. On her 18th birthday, Frésquez left small-town life in favor of the big city, Phoenix, Arizona. She worked at a mall in Scottsdale, but six months later, Vanessa returned home for support during wisdom teeth surgery in the winter. "I never went back to Phoenix. At the time, I liked where I lived and what I did, but I felt the pull to remain home once I was here," said Frésquez.
Since 2003, Frésquez has worked off and on as a cashier and completed other duties in the Ski Rental Shop at Taos Ski Valley. Between stints in larger communities and various winters throughout the years, she has returned to work in the rental shop.
Following work at Taos Ski Valley for a period time, Frésquez moved to Albuquerque for eight years. The lure to return to Taos took over once again, and she returned home last May. "I love being back. I love Taos. I love the family atmosphere," she said regarding her return.
Her family includes the late Victor (Vito) Frésquez, her paternal grandfather; Grandma Cecilia (the late Eugenio) Rael, her "nina" and "nino." Grandparents Cecilia and Felix Vigil; and cousin Maria Martínez Esquibel, "a cousin who's more like a sister." She acknowledged a special cousin, Karen Frésquez, and her godmother-aunt Becky Vigil-Jirón. Vanessa's goddaughter, toddler Eva Gallegos, is the child of Val Gallegos and her sister Amanda. A special relationship exists between the Manuel and Pat Martínez family (Frésquez's aunt and uncle) and cousins Gregory and Patrick. Gregory Martínez (her godbrother) returned from military deployment to Iraq.
Frésquez has a 5-year-old daughter, Quinn. The youngster plans to attend school as a kindergartner at TISA (Taos Integrated School for the Arts). "She thrives here in this community," said Frésquez. "She's intelligent and well-mannered. Everyone who meets her falls in love with her. She's excited and eager to start school."
Throughout her location and relocation between large and small communities, Vanessa Frésquez based her current preference for a smaller living area on the rhythm of the place. "Large and small communities are as different as night and day. The people, the atmosphere are the way things move set the pace of life. I prefer slower-paced action and the feel for family life of a small town. Family is a large part of it. I love being around aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents," said Frésquez. "I wasn't around them when I was in the city. I'm a private person, so I prefer a place where I can be myself."
One of Vanessa's huge draws to Taos includes skiing. "Since I was age 4, my dad had me out here on the mountain. Once I skied, I couldn't stop. The other day, I found most of my ski passes, from age 6 to present. I grouped the passes and took a picture of them," she said. "These passes meant so much to me that I saved them. I never forgot where I learned to ski - at Taos Ski Valley. This is a lifelong passion."
Other favorite means of spending spare time include camping, barbecuing, fishing and hiking to stay active end healthy. "I want to teach my daughter how to do these activities so she'll know how I grew up. I call these activities 'The Taoseño Way'," she said.
Frésquez enjoys reading mysteries, romances and horror themes like Freddie Kruger. She also likes horror movies. Despite her love for spooky things to read and watch, Frésquez listed her favorite book as "Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."
A Taos native, Frésquez views her future as earning credentials for a career as an ER (Emergency Room) nurse. "I want to join the medical field to help people," she explained. Frésquez added, "I considered EMT credentials, but when I thought of on-the-scene trauma, I decided against it. I think that being an ER nurse would keep me on my toes. I'd have different patients and must expect the unexpected. I'm applying to the CNM online nursing program and hope to begin in August. I'll study pre-requisites first, and estimate that it will take about three years to complete. Hopefully, I'll work at the Holy Cross Hospital ER when my studies are completed."
Vanessa Frésquez completed her personal assessment of small town vs. big city life with the following quote: "When I moved to Albuquerque, I never wanted to come back to live in Taos. Now that I'm here at home, I wouldn't change where I'm at for the world."