Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Explaining home

Maggie says:
To be honest, I've been depressed since the plane from NC touched down in Albuquerque Sunday night. The wheels hitting the runway jarred me - unwantingly - from this beautiful mental space of green and blue where I'd been seeped for over a week, a place of family and friends and things I've known forever, of smells and sounds and senses that are as second nature to me as breathing. It was a tough transition.

More times than I can count, I'm asked that most un-answerable of questions by family and friends far away from this desert city: "Why are you in Albuquerque?" Depending on my mood, depending on what's happening at the time, my answers vary. Sometimes I say it's the people - the friends here who are family, or the communities I'm able to work with who in many ways feel like home to me. Sometimes I say it's the unique ability to be part of positive change here, the access and opportunity to do good, the freedom to insert yourself and make a difference (I've had losses here, but many more wins that I might have had in other places). Sometimes I say it's the feeling in the air, the fact that Albuquerque is in flux and this moment in time is the best chance to help shape this city into what it will become. I like being in places that are evolving, growing, in the midst of something so new you can literally see it as you walk down a street. All of that is Albuquerque. All of that is why I'm here.

That said, I will not be here forever. I know that now more than I ever have. I don't know what's next, or when next is, but I can feel there will be a next, and I've gotta be ready for it.

Two friends yesterday centered me again. One of them, a long-timer who still has moments of feeling displaced in the Duke City: "It can be hard coming back here," he said. "Other places can feel so three-dimensional when you're gone for a while, and you come back and everything feels surface and flat and one-dimensional." He's right, that it takes a while for the multitude of dimensions that are Albuquerque to rise to the surface again. But he's also right that they do come back, and they will for me, too.

The other friend offered two things she always offers best - her front porch and a glass of wine. And there, amidst premature fireworks in the sky and a light rain, we talked about community values and how our jobs reflect those and what our place in this city is. We talked about the people we love in one place and the families in the other, and how we can ever truly resolve that distance. We talked about hometowns that ground us just as much as they make us realize that we are different, that we're not all home, either. Looking across that porch last night, it became so clear to me that the best reason why I'm in Albuquerque really is the people, that it's friends like her who make this home, and will continue to do so as long as I can manage to call it that, too.

Thanks, you two. And tonight, when I'll see so many more people who are making this place as wonderful as it is, I know I'll be thanking them, too.