I surprised myself — and A. — when I was in the car with my father-in-law in North Carolina driving from the airport to his house for Thanksgiving. “How do you like Albuquerque so far?” he asked.
“It’s OK,” I said, my voice lilting upward. “It’s nice to have places to eat out and stuff to do with the kids, but I feel landlocked. And there’s something missing.”
“Is it too suburban?” asked my FIL.
“I’m not sure if that’s it, but yes. And believe or not, I do miss the mountains in California [the Eastern Sierras] and the wide open space.”
When we visited in May to house-hunt, I was smitten and had a brief moment where I thought perhaps Albuquerque could be our “forever place” (knowing realistically that A. loves his job and we’re moving back to D.C. in a few years). The mountains are right out my doorstep. The real estate is cheap. Traffic is easy. And there’s a lot to explore in New Mexico and up into Colorado. But now, five months in, I know that it’s not our forever place. And I’m at peace with that. In fact, it will probably make me live a little deeper — knowing my time here is short.
It’s hard to say exactly what is missing. Part of it is its suburban, sprawling feel and closed off people (not entirely, but for the most part), so I don’t see an easy avenue to creating community. I’ve met some lovely people, and there are friendly smiles at C’s preschool, but I haven’t quite hit that stride where I feel hopeful about local friendships turning long-lasting. I know that takes time, and I have to be patient, so patient. But it’s been hard for me, and it makes me miss my far-away friends more intensely. Plus, even if I develop community in the time we’re here, I’m still quite sure this isn’t our forever place.
So with that realization, I’m shifting my mindset about what I can get out of my time here. Instead of longing for community, I’m focusing on enjoying the mountains (I love that I can be on a trail in five minutes), how much we explore and that I don’t have to work because Albuquerque is affordable. Also, I am continually trying to stay in the moment with my deep love for A. and my tiny, adorable littles who won’t be little for that long — their cuddles, sweet voices and giggles and excitement for the mundane. “LOOK MAMA, THERE’S A TAXI!!!!!”
So although I’m missing community, I can build it slowly, but really turn my attention to family, being a tourist, creating — and staying thankful.