Growing up, I was always nervous talking to my friends about parents. My dad is different than other ones.
Once, he turned our apartment into a tomato-growing jungle with hundreds of plants. When we had a house, he built a box kite so big we had to take off the door and sledgehammer part of the wall to get it outside. Our home never had furniture in the traditional sense—sawhorses, boards, half-built guitars, mattresses on the floor. He parked his motorcycles in the living room. We moved every six months or more frequently. I guess what I’m saying is that housing has never been a priority for him.
My sister and I turned out all right. He’s a good dad. He’s always done exactly what he wanted at any given moment, lived in unconventional ways. But it’s not a decision or an ideology that makes him this way. He doesn’t think to himself, “I want to be unconventional.” Rather, his projects propel him to the outskirts of normal living.
A couple months ago he moved to a metal building that I think used to be a slaughterhouse near Mountainair, N.M. He spent weeks hauling away massive piles of junk. It didn’t have doors. He raised a tent inside to keep warm. On his first night there, wild dogs entered the building. I’m not sure how that played out. He wouldn’t say, but he insists it was fine. There are doors now.
Barn owls live in the walls. Lovebirds chirp on the wires crisscrossing the ceiling. Rabbits hop from truck carcass to truck carcass.
We drove there yesterday for the first time to get a look at the place. He barbecued (inside the building), and we sat in the lounging area next to his tent. A very comfortable van seat is one couch. A park bench also serves as furniture.
I’ve grown to appreciate that Mike Demarco is not crazy. Unusual, yes. Smart. Inspired. Alive. Always alive.
Eventually, the building will become his shop, and he’ll construct an underground tire house. He’s already got the tires. He wants to turn his 160 acres into a wind farm.