Three years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life. I sold my house in Bowie, Maryland, hired movers, packed my cats in my car and proceeded to drive across the country to my new home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Making the Move
Straying from my typically pragmatic self, I didn't think about the decision much. I knew I wanted to leave Bowie for lots of reasons, not the least of which was the fact a girl was murdered less than a mile from my house in broad daylight. I also was starting to realize I was stuck in my life and needed a change.
So when I visited a friend in Albuquerque in the Summer of 2006, I decided that I would move. At the time, it wasn't Albuquerque that was the draw. It was my need to get out of Bowie, and I figured that knowing at least one person in town was better than moving somewhere I didn't know anyone.
When I returned from that first visit, I contacted a real estate agent and got things moving for the sale of my house. I also started looking for a job and a residence in Albuquerque.
About six months later, my house was under contract and I had signed a lease for an amazing condo near the University of New Mexico.
Unfortunately, I hadn't found any good job opportunities in Albuquerque. Lucky me, though, my employer agreed to let me stay on and telecommute. And that was that.
Love Takes Time
About an hour after I arrived in Albuquerque, I had a "what the fuck did I just do" moment. A moment that lasted almost 18 months.
That whole thing about knowing one person in town was great, but it didn't force me to go out and meet other people. And working from my home office didn't help either.
I spent those months planning where I was going to move next, feeling certain that Albuquerque just wasn't for me. And then my boss talked me into joining Twitter.
Slowly but surely, I started seeing new parts of the city and state. I started hanging out with awesome people who shared my passions. And I started falling in love with Albuquerque.
Now, three years later, I'm having a passionate love affair with this town. I never knew I could love a place so much or feel so at home.
Let Me Count the Ways
There is so much that makes Albuquerque (and New Mexico) special to me, and I never want to forget:
- My friends. Loyal, supportive, fun, interesting and at least two dozen more positive adjectives. Without these people (you know who you are), I know Albuquerque wouldn't be home to me.
- My love. Albuquerque is where I fell in love for the first time in over ten years. Jason Nakai is the much-needed frosting on my life cake.
- ABQ Web Geeks. As I already mentioned, getting involved in this group was the turning point for me. We get together once a month to drink beer and get geeky. Always a good time.
- Webuquerque. The New Mexico Adobe User Group for web professionals, which I co-founded and co-manage with Jason, is my monthly opportunity to give back to the local geek community. And, maybe, it will help in some way to change the sorry state of web job opportunities in the area.
- Sunshine. About 310 days a year worth of it.
- Open spaces. Take a drive 20 minutes outside of the city in any direction, and it is nothing but gorgeous, open spaces. I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and …
- The Sandias. The watermelon mountains are my Eastern view from my condo. They are particularly gorgeous in the winter after a snow, but nothing beats their pink hue at sunset that inspired their name.
- Sunsets. My Western view delivers the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen and almost every single night.
- Balloons. Albuquerque is the destination for hot-air ballooning. Aside from the International Balloon Fiesta in the Fall, on any given morning, I can look out my window and there is at least one balloon in the sky.
- Elena Gallegos Park. This lovely open space in the Sandia foothills offers a number of trails for easy and quick hiking and biking. Far enough out of the way so that I feel like I'm outside of the city, close enough that I can get there in 15 minutes.
- UNM North Golf Course. A five–minute walk from my condo, the course has a trail surrounding it that provides me the perfect place to get in a good walk during my hour-long lunch breaks. Sadly, developers are trying to turn the open space into a housing development, which would totally suck.
- Tent Rocks. Less than an hour drive from Albuquerque, this national monument offers breathtaking geologic formations and two great hiking trails.
- Ojo Caliente. Worth the 2-hour drive, the hot springs and spa is my favorite getaway when I can't go too far out of town. Cabins for overnight stays are cozy. The on-site restaurant is excellent and not too pricey. And the springs are rejuvenating, relaxing and hard to leave. Whenever I have a guest visit from out of town, this is where I take them.
- Ten Thousand Waves. When I don't have the time or money to hit Ojo, I take a quick drive north to Santa Fe to this spa for a rejuvenating soak and massage.
- Marble Brewery. Really good locally-brewed beer, and I recommend all newcomers try their sampler and then take home a growler. Need I say more?
- Chocolate Cafe & Bakery. I have actually never had their baked goods (though I hear good things), but there is no other place in the world where I'd rather have breakfast because they make the best red and green in town … maybe in the entire state.
- Flying Star Cafe. The food is good (especially their breakfast grabburrito), the atmosphere is casual and the wifi is free. This is my office away from home.
- Satellite Coffee. While I don't drink caffeine much these days, I do love coffee. And this local chain won my heart and stole me from Starbucks.
I know I'm overlooking lots of other reasons I love this place — and I haven't even seen everything I want to see (Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Taos) — but these are what immediately come to mind whenever anyone asks me about this town I love so much.
All Relationships Have Problems
Of course, not everything is perfect in The Burque.
There is virtually no job market for me here. And the more pissed I get working with the executive bobbleheads and fucktards at my job, the more I want to quit. But there's nowhere for me to go here in Albuquerque. And this sucks.
Every Spring, "windy season" hits. And it is miserable for me. Virtually non-stop winds make walking, hiking, biking and pretty much anything outdoors unpleasant. And that's not even taking into account the wind gusts that get up to 70 mph.
I still haven't adjusted to the heat of Summer. The lack of humidity is great, but the intensity of the sun is, well, intense.
But that's all I can truly complain about.
It is unlikely I will be here forever. The job situation alone portends that my time in Albuquerque may be shorter than I would like. But I will always love it, even if we can't be together.