After an extremely hot July here in New Mexico, the mornings have cooled into the lower sixties. It's one sign that fall is around the corner. But in August I also see the days getting shorter as darkness keeps with us later in the morning and just a general feel that it's time for school to start as the shadows change.
But I am always reminded of August in Albuquerque because twenty-two years ago this week I moved here as a twenty-two-year-old college graduate heading off to graduate school at the University of New Mexico.
New Mexico was not a place familiar to me much more than my uncle's brother lived here. I didn't intend to stay so much as I saw it a stop on my journey, hoping to continue to head west to Los Angeles, the place where I'd wanted to live since I was thirteen.
Yet twenty- two years later, with a year and a half hiatus where I moved back to Illinois, here I am.
And here I intend to stay. With time spent in Los Angeles, of course.
I know that it was hard for my parents to leave me here, and a Uhaul filled with my belongings as well as many useful items from my grandmother's house because she had died less than a year before (to this day I have more Pyrex glass dishes than Target). My move was only eighteen months after my younger sister's death and it would have been easier for everyone if I had stayed closer to home. But my parents knew I wasn't going to be the kid who stayed close to home.
While I did try to move back for a time, I realized that I might be a Midwesterner by blood, but I'm much happier here in the Southwest. It seems to fit me better (the vast amounts of sunshine help). A priest I knew back at Ball State said, after I had come back to New Mexico for the second time, "I don't know why you left. You spent almost your entire adult life there."
I came in New Mexico as a twenty-two year old and it has influenced much of who I have become right down to my cooking.
I won't leave but I also don't forget the journey here.