So we’ve all heard it a million times – “I’m sick of this city and I need outta here”, “the schools are horrible”, “the crime is outrageous”, “the taxes are out of control”, “there are too many gangsters” and so on and so on. Well let me just say that as someone who actually enjoys living in Albuquerque, this has always been a point of contention for me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that some people choose to go away for college, or move to other cities just because, or simply want to experience diverse communities and cultures. I just don’t think that this should be a reason to look down upon the place you’re from. I truly started to ponder this concept a few weeks ago when I received the October issue of Albuquerque the Magazine. This particular issue was titled: 300 Ways to Love Living Here. The article was filled with information on new and old attractions, events, restaurants, entertainment, museums, seasonal traditions, parks, sporting events, historical landmarks, well you get the idea…so as I was reading the article I kept thinking to myself – how can anyone truly detest this place?! I do realize of course, that Albuquerque, like any other city in America, has its crime and its rough neighborhoods and its struggling schools. As a matter of fact, up until recently I thought that APS was unique in the challenges it faces with graduation rates, crowded classrooms and low test scores. That was until the documentary “Waiting for Superman” came along showing all of America that this is an epidemic facing the entire nation!
As a person putting my thoughts on paper (or on keyboard) I feel inclined to be honest in saying that I didn’t always love the 505… (pause for reaction). To be truthful, I detested the city throughout most of my early twenties. The majority of my friends had moved away or were busy in relationships. I had frequented every night club and bar in the city about a thousand times and I sincerely didn’t care to look beyond this. It really wasn’t until I found a person to discover Albuquerque with that I truly learned to love the city. There are so many reasons why I heart living here! I actually had an experience recently that reminded me of what it is that gives this city its charm. I was driving to my Mom’s house in the North Valley and on my way down Candelaria I pulled up behind an old pick-up truck. The truck had two metal rods that came up the back and connected across to the front end. Hanging on these metal rods were rows of beautiful red, orange and green chile ristras. They were so gorgeous and fragrant that I sped up to get closer look. As I pulled up behind the truck and we stopped at a light, I noticed that the man driving was talking to another gentleman one lane over in an SUV. A few moments later, a little old man jumped out of the truck and ran to the back to meet the guy in the SUV who was wearing a suit and looked to be coming home from work. They exchanged money; the man selected his chile ristra and shook the old man’s hand thanking him before jumping back into his vehicle and driving away. I can’t really explain why it warmed my heart to see this but it did. Maybe it was the small town feel it gave me. Maybe it was that I got to see this little old man making his living, or maybe it was just because I knew that this was something that you wouldn’t see on a “busy” street in most other cities.
One of the greatest lessons that I've learned in the past 5 years or so, is that happiness is a choice regardless of where you live. I've learned that we create our own environment and truly make our city what it is...if we want to. For me, by choosing to try new things and get to know Albuquerque and all she has to offer, I discovered that much to my surprise, my state and my city really are pretty enchanting.