Wednesday, May 07, 2008

here i go again

It has come to pass that the quintet is packing up, leaving New Mexico, and heading to far more inhabited and financially supportive climes. I am, of course, going with, since this is my baby and my dream. We're returning (for four of us, a new adventure for one) to the great upper Midwest, that land of trees and berries and big, clear, inviting lakes, and, more specifically, to the metropolitan area known affectionately as the Twin Cities.

I have no fears that life in Minneapolis will be enjoyable and contented. I have often wished someday my path would lead me back to lands close to Wisconsin, I just never expected it to be so soon after having found myself loving every minute of my desert home.

Since the first time I visited New Mexico, I knew I wanted to live here someday. And so I have, but it is with a heavy heart that I leave it barely a year after I came, and even harder is the sadness I feel when I look out at my mountain view and find myself counting the days I have left of appreciating it. In a short while, so much has happened. It's gone too fast, it's been too sweet, it's left its mark.

The simple things: the sunshine, the mild climate, the big, expansive sky, the joy of scrambling over rocks and conquering hills, the stories inherent in the landscape, the lack of mosquitos, the striking plant life, the abundance of strange and wonderful surprises, the culture of space and mountain and Route 66 memorabilia, the people with their strong boots and easy smiles.

The more complex, that stem from these simple things: living in a place similar to my childhood home with reminders in the color of the sky, the boulders, the vegetation, finding strength in my physical body to make molehills out of mountains and to stand at the top in awe of my accomplishments, the painful process of learning to both love myself and others again, and one in particular, who both taught me his own wisdom and a new way of seeing that hard, ever-present obstacle of losing that which I love, to climb the mountains both real and imagined, to see again, literally and figuratively, what lies before me, to jump without fear of the risk and to enjoy the fall and be confident of the landing.

These are not things I will lose easily, but in my inner being I know I'm not done learning from this amazing place. I have two months left of New Mexico, of myself in my heart's home, to make the most of the lessons that are here. I'm not ready to move again soon after this, and it will be a long time before I can return and an even longer time to regain those things that make me proudest of my accomplishments here: my high altitude endurance, my ability to go uphill with pleasure and alacrity, my calm but purposeful manner learned from an underpopulated and secluded place.

It didn't take long for NM to turn Denton, Texas's little social party girl into a wilderness geek with almost as much time and money invested in outdoor equipment as in musical instruments, from one whose face was welcome in any bar to one whose enjoyment of raucous debauchery dwindled to the random beer on a special occasion. It might not be a permanent change, but it's one that feels right for the time being. To be more confident of myself, of my body, of my own enduring capabilities, this is more pleasing than to wake up unhappy and dehydrated. The day is too short to accomplish all that I want to, and the best hikes are had in the mornings when the city is still sleeping.

I'm hoping in time to find some peace with this decision to move, knowing full well all the benefits on the other end of it. In the meantime, this is my lovesong to Albuquerque, to Cabezon Peak, to the hot springs of Truth or Consequences, to the dusty washes east of Socorro and the mysterious caves to its west, to the Jemez and their watermelon-colored beauty, to El Malpais, the lava beds and the arch, the sandstone cliffs and the ice caves, to the Volcanos west of town undisturbed in their long slumber, to the big, scorched ponderosas of Los Alamos and the untouched ones of the San Mateo mountains, to the wind-wound oddities of Kasha-Katuwe, and to Sandia Peak, the view from my window, and the doorway to all my dreams.