This week’s guest post is from Abby Tegnelia who spent a few years living in Albuquerque, NM.
New Mexico’s official slogan is, the Land of Enchantment, but as a teenager living there after years in the oh-so-hip (at least in a high schooler’s mind) Orlando, it quickly gained the nickname “Land of Dis-enchantment”. My family and I moved around every five years, so when I landed in Albuquerque as a junior in high school, I figured I didn’t have to get too attached. My family would again pick up roots, I assumed; probably right when I was halfway through college. The joke, it turns out, was on me.
New Mexico doesn’t just grow on you. It grabs on and doesn’t let go.
Teen angst aside, it wasn’t the easiest transition, moving to a land of wide open spaces; brown for as far as the eye could see. I was used to palm trees and pretty beaches – not to mention season passes to the Wet ‘n’ Wild water park, plenty of mixers for teens and other activities. In Albuquerque it was a big deal if a group of us were getting together in the Subway parking lot.
As it turns out, it was the first time life would teach me to slow down. Now, every few years I take a year off from the hustle and bustle; once in Texas and once in Costa Rica. I wonder where I’ll do my next sabbatical.
Albuquerque is a world of making dinner for the neighbors, sitting around chatting, and hitting up Flying Star for a piece of pie. The people there are so wonderful that my family has refused to leave, 16 years later. I lived there for only two years before heading off to college, but many of my closest friends are still the ones I met there.
As a teen, I visited Acoma Sky City, an ancient pueblo, with my parents, among other tourist destinations. To think – the oldest continuously inhabited town in the country owes its survival to its being on a mesa almost 400 feet above the surrounding land. The glistening White Sands, quaintness of Santa Fe, even the 84-year-old KiMo Theater downtown were unlike anything I’d ever seen. I even tried skiing – once. The Floridian in me didn’t take well to the snow!
And I’ve got to hand it to my mother, who somehow got my two younger brothers and I out of bed at the crack of dawn for the famous Balloon Fiesta. As an adult on one of my many, many visits home, I finally drove out to Taos, alone, in the biggest car I’d ever driven, the snow coming down in sheets. It was so quiet that I remember my insides, wound so tightly from stress, starting to relax. I had a green chile cheeseburger at Old Blinking Light, way up in the foothills, and a few glasses of wine. I slept more soundly that night than I had in months.
Too often, when I tell people that I’m from Albuquerque, their only answer is that they’ve driven through it. I implore anyone to stop next time, and check out parts of New Mexico. It was no accident that my once-nomadic family put down roots there. It’s a very special, dare I say enchanting, place.
While Abby Tegnelia’s family has stayed put in New Mexico, she has continued the nomadic lifestyle, living in Miami, New York, Austin, Los Angeles, Costa Rica and Las Vegas, while traveling as far as Brazil, Borneo and Bulgaria, among many other places.