“I’d had no particular interest in the Southwest at all as a young girl, and I was completely surprised that the desert stole my heart to the extent it did.” – Terri Windling
Stucco, skulls, and skies sum up a lot of what the southwest is to me. I picture the sugar skulls that lined the tourist stores and restaurants as decorations, but that are also deeply rooted in the Spanish culture. I remember the cotton candy skies, the sunsets that rival any on earth. I think of the stucco buildings that first made me fall in love with New Mexico.
I went to college in Albuquerque, NM. Most of you had never heard of it, some of you have only driven through it, and the rest of you probably live there. I hated it for the first six months. By the time I left four years later I had a love for the southwest desert that I didn’t know was possible. There is something so beautiful, so distinct, and so special about this place that you can only know by living in it. And then it captures your heart and you know that no matter where you live, it could never be anything like it.
I left a year ago, for a bigger city, for a fresh start, and for a place where I could create my dreams and passion and calling. But in preparing to go back I wrestled with this: you can always go back, but you will never be back.
Physically I can go back - and I did. But I won't ever be back there. The life I lived there ended when I left, and it's not something I can just pick back up again like a half finished book.
Albuquerque will always be a special place, but it won't ever be mine again. So how do you go back knowing that it might be the last time, for a long time?
I want to remember what I loved most, and miss most. The purple skies every evening,
the adobe houses, the stucco everything,
the turquoise accents,
the mountainous, rocky, and deserted landscape (with a river that sometimes had water in it),
the transition from summer to fall, into (secretly) the best season the southwest has to offer.
I got to go back, one year after leaving, and was reminded of all the things I loved. This post was originally written on my old site last fall, but I wanted to share it again here.