We depart in less than a week and saying goodbye has been an emotional experience. Packing stress has set in. Laughs and tears intermingle as we reflect on our years here. In the midst of planning and packing and parties, we have also had to bid adios to the land which has become so familiar and comforting. After nearly two decades in New Mexico we are bidding farewell to this place that we have called home.
I have spent most of adult life here. While I grew up in Ohio, it was here that I matured. That was the land of my childhood; this has been the land of my womanhood. Here I learned to adapt, accept, embrace. Here I have experienced joys, trials, love. There is something indescribable about the atmosphere; the high desert, where you can easily see for sixty miles, can offer such clarity to life.
Albuquerque has changed in so many ways during our residence. It has exploded in population and sprawl and traffic and insipid chains and strip malls. It has become so much more homogenized than it had been, often driving out the elements that had made it so attractive and charming to us. I guess this is the trend of life in America and we were lucky that so much was unique for so long. It grieves us to see it change. We had seen it "before" and admired its multi-culturalism.
And yet, outside the city the landscapes are infinite...we have such a love for the landscapes. Turquoise blue skies, juniper-studded hills, pine-carpeted forests, red sandstone mesas. Time-weathered Indian lands with beautiful, resilient people and their beautiful artistic traditions still being passed down to the next generation to carry the torch of their cultural heritage. In New Mexico's vast and varied landscape, beauty is everywhere and becomes a part of daily life, a part of one's being.
The wide-open spaces still astound and awe me. Uncluttered, unpolluted expanses of land. Land and sky so intensely brilliant with sunlight and moonlight and high altitude air. In this land the desert burns shimmery-gold and the mountains turn glittery-pink. Half a lifetime ago we came here. We chose to live here, and it chose to endow us with its treasures.
New Mexico is often called the "Land of Enchantment". But I will also call it "Home."
copyright 2006 Valerie Schneider