My boyfriend, a native New Mexican, left Albuquerque for 7 years to go to grad school in Florida. (A couple years of school and a few more years of being stuck in a Podunk, deep south college town). We met there, and a few months after the birth of our son he managed to convince me to move across the country to New Mexico.
Since our arrival we've been enamored with the things that I suppose every flatland Easterner is... the brown, the mountain, the volcanoes, the mesa. I had never seen a mesa before, save for the cartoon sort, and for the first month or so I just couldn't wrap my head around the earth suddenly falling, then continuing on as if nothing had happened. That feeling was overcome by an urge to run up the slope the way I used to run up mountains of sand on construction sites as a kid. After I got closer and realized that might not be possible, I have reserved myself to mentally turning the dark spots that are shrubs into buffalo when I see it from a distance. (Smart buffalo that don't run over the edge.)
My boyfriend comments often on how he took everything about this place for granted. He never really looked at the mountain, it was just kinda there; he never realized that most cities aren't lined with a string of volcanoes, he had never been to the Petroglyphs, the pueblo ruins, to the top of Sandia Peak. At first I had a hard time relating to this idea... how could you be a child in this place and not be overwhelmed by it? How could he have gone to school here (for cultural anthropology!) without visiting the Petroglyphs? But then I thought of all the amazing places I never made any attempt to visit in Florida, and all the sunrises over the ocean I was too tired to get up and watch. And even in my first few months in Albuquerque, how my desire to run up the mesa or take the Tram to the top of the mountain has dwindled.
My sense of wonder was rekindled with the falling of the first snow. Having grandparents in Connecticut, I romped in the snow a few times as a kid. But I had never actually watched it come down from the sky, melt melt melt, then finally build up a little. It was exciting enough to incite childish wonder and maybe a little childish behavior- going outside to stand in it despite the cold I'd been fighting for a week, or waking my tropic-dwelling family in the middle of the night with my news. "Its snowing... jealous?" Yes, those were my actual words. But snow, for someone who hasn't seen it or, like me, doesn't really remember seeing it, is strange and beautiful and painfully temporary. I can't remember ever being afraid of the prospect that a rainstorm would end or that the wind would stop blowing on a windy day, but I had to stand at the window and watch the snow fall- from the first piece until it stopped. The second night it snowed, I missed it altogether and woke to find snow on the ground and I felt an unexpected feeling of loss. Maybe after a couple winters I can let it go.
Anyway, I am writing this in my hope to remind myself to take a second to enjoy the one of a kind beauty that surrounds me here, and for that matter, to make the most of wherever I am in the world.