So, here are some things I’ve discovered about Albuquerque in the last few months–after living here the last three years: Golden Pride breakfast burritos. Old Town. Frontier tortillas. A cool guy. El Patio carne adovada. A set of four girlfriends with uncanny chemistry.
I know. This is just what happens when you leave a place: suddenly, you discover everything awesome about it. It’s the universe’s backwards way of generating narrative, or something: making you feel conflicted, in case you didn’t already.
If I were staying in Albuquerque, I’d be dwelling instead on all of the downsides: the present moth invasion (not kidding); the ferocious spring wind; the limited number of breweries that don’t suck.
But since I’m not, I get to spend my remaining time here waxing nostalgic about how fabulous New Mexico is. How unique and beautiful and culturally rich. How the climate is so perfect and the cost of living so low. How I have such lovely friends, such a sweet guy, such a great fucking house.
All things that are surely easier to romanticize due to my impending move. But I wonder if it’s also true that I’ve just now been here long enough to finallly feel happy.
Three years is the exact same amount of time that I lived in Washington–in both cases, just short of three years, actually, by a few months. And as I did in Albuquerque, I spent a large chunk of my time there groaning about all the city’s faults: the oppressive humidity, the plaid khaki saturation, the provincialism.
And, needless to say, by the time I moved away I was smitten with the place: so green! So walkable! So much live music!
Shortly before I left DC, I talked to my mother one weekday night on the phone.
“What are you up to this weekend?” she asked.
“Well,” I said. “On Friday I’m going to a gala. It’s black tie. And on Saturday I’m having a dinner party.”
“Wow,” she replied. “Are you sure you want to move?”
For the record, I’ve been to a black tie gala all of one time. But having dinner parties is something I did do regularly in Washington: especially in my last ten months there, when I lived in an immaculate apartment on Columbia Road with the most attractive and well-appointed private roof deck that I will ever, ever have. (Also, when I had a Very Respectable Salary that allowed me to buy large cuts of meat at Whole Foods without a flinch.)
After years of scampering to leave work early on Friday afternoons so I could make it to Metro Center and catch the bus up to New York, I finally had a social life in DC–one that was fun and dynamic and, you know, earned with many long months trying to make friends and figure out my place.
Some people say that two years is what it takes to get settled somewhere; others say just one. Surely, the city and the circumstance matter: some places are easier to penetrate than others; it’s a hell of a lot quicker to meet people when you move somewhere for school versus a job.
And I’m pretty good at meeting people and making friends. It’s one of my three life skills: that, along with writing quickly and being born with perfect eyebrows. (I usually only claim the first two, but A reminded me of the last during her recent visit and I was too worn out from our three-hour, unexpectedly snowy hike to argue.)
But even so, I feel like I might require three whole years to feel genuinely settled. To feel like I really belong and have a community and know what’s up.
You know: just in time to leave.