I moved to New Mexico in the spring of 1999, freshly in love with the man I would eventually marry. It couldn’t have been more different from my native midwestern Germany. I fell for our adobe house right away, but the real hook
came when he took me on a hike in the wideopen high desert. I realized that in my youth I had never seen a rain shower fall from a distant cloud, or smelled the desert after the rain had passed. Fifteen years later, my husband and I still hike the mountains around Las Cruces, nowadays with our kids and friends. When we go back to my old country, I feel almost claustrophobic. New Mexico is my true home and always will be.
When I accepted a transfer from Boston to Albuquerque, neither my husband nor I had ever visited New Mexico. A friend assured me that the area was beautiful, but the day we flew in for a house hunting trip, all I could see was brown, dusty, empty land for miles. The first homes the realtor showed us didn’t help. After a few uninspired outings, I started to worry that the move had been a huge mistake. Then we walked into a living room whose wall of windows was filled with a view of the Sandía Mountains.
I gasped. My friend was right: It was beautiful here!
Needless to say, we bought the house, and for years we were treated to mag nificent sunrises, coyote sightings in the nearby arroyo, and dancing storm clouds that butted against the mountain. After I retired, we moved again—to another house in Albuquerque, of course.
ROAD TRIP REVERIE
One cool June morning in 1957, when I was 11 years old, my parents and I loaded up a Chevy and left Omaha to visit family out west. It was afternoon when we pulled into Tucumcari, where I enjoyed my first swim in a motel pool. In the evening we got dressed up to go to dinner, as people did in those days, and when we stepped out of the restaurant, it was into a blinking neon heaven. I had never seen anything like it. The next day we stopped the car at White Sands National Monument so that I could play in the mountains of pure white sand—another enchanting first. Thirty years and five kids later, I returned to New Mexico with my husband. When we drove into the state on I40, the way the landscape changed took our breath away. We’ve returned several times since, and hope one day to live there. New Mexico makes me feel that one is never too old to dream.
CHECK THIS OUT
My boyfriend and I moved to Las Cruces from California in 1990. One day not long after we arrived, I was buying house supplies when the clerk saw my California driver’s license and noticed I was from San Jose. Her brother lived there, she said. Did I know where his street was? There was no one else in the checkout line, so we proceeded to have a lovely conversation. She gave me some very helpful tips about Las Cruces, and I left the store with a smile on my face. That clerk was the first of many wonderful people I met in Las Cruces and, I suspect, one of the reasons I fell deeply in love with New Mexico.
Although we lived in New Mexico for less than two years, I have returned every year since for my annual fix. I still have a ristra by my front door in California. As far as I’m concerned, no matter where I live, New Mexico will always be my home. Each month when New Mexico Magazine arrives, I get that familiar feeling of warmth (and chile) that makes my heart smile.
Redwood City, CA