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Dear ABQ, I miss you!

I miss Albuquerque. A few weeks ago, I left the desert to finish up graduate school in the rainy town of Eugene, Oregon. I love it here. I grew up watching the Twilight films, so it’s always been my dream to live in the Pacific Northwest. But.

There’s a part of me that craves Albuquerque. My current state of homesickness might be because the day I’m writing this is the 15th anniversary of “High School Musical,” a film based in Albuquerque that shaped who I am as a person. It was actually filmed in Utah, but I, like many New Mexicans, often choose to ignore that fact. Simply put, Albuquerque is the best. From turquoise to tacos, it has it all!

If you’re living in the 505, well, I’m jealous, but I’m also here to remind you to appreciate the city’s quirks. Here are five little Albuquerque things that I pinky promise you’d miss if you moved away:

1. Sandia Mountains. This is an obvious one, but I definitely took them for granted. Sure, Oregon has some green hills and bumps, but nothing compared to the romantic, watermelon-colored mountains of Albuquerque. This may sound a little out there, but I’m convinced the Sandias don’t just reflect the colors of the sky but the mood of Albuquerque residents. Their color always matches my emotions. They’re iridescent, forever altering from pinks to blues. On your drive home today, take in the beauty of the Sandias for me — pretty please.

2. Local businesses. Ah, what I would do for a slice of green chile pineapple pizza from Dion’s, with a side of ranch, of course. Or, to share a slice of key lime pie with my mom at Flying Star. Charley’s 33’s and CD’s has always held a special place in my heart — did you know it’s the largest independent record store in New Mexico? The list of unique local businesses in Albuquerque could go on forever. I’m counting on you to support them while I’m away.

3. Sunshine. When I decided to move to Oregon, everyone told me I’d miss the sun. I would say, “No way! The rain is going to be magical, just (like) Hilary Duff’s iconic candlelit ‘Come Clean’ music video.” She looked so good in the rain. Well, as it turns out, those people were right. I miss the sun. I need the sun. It’s rejuvenating to my soul. So if it’s sunny out there in Albuquerque, which it probably is, go for a walk. Soak up that sun.

4. Roadrunners. So, Oregon has a lot of squirrels, but I have yet to see one roadrunner. I don’t know about you, but I get so excited whenever I see one of those majestic birds dashing across the road. To me, they’ve never seemed like real birds. They look like tiny dinosaurs. They symbolize everything that New Mexico is: enchanting. As you whiz down Paseo, watch out for roadrunners. Keep those babies safe.

5. My mom. Well, you might not know her, but she’s awesome. From our trips to Blockbuster (RIP) to midnight premieres at Century Rio 24, the best memories of my life have been made with her in New Mexico. During quarantine, we went on countless masked trips to Trader Joe’s — the one on Paseo, of course — and watched all of the Harry Potter movies for the first time. I miss my mom. Right now, I’m sitting alone in my studio apartment and would do anything to share a box of Cheez-Its with her. So, if you’re blessed enough to be in Albuquerque with family, give them a hug. Tell them you love them.

I hope this little homesick-inspired list that I put together brightened your day and reminded you what an awesome city you live in. In an episode of “I Love Lucy,” Lucille Ball asks, “What’s so hot all of a sudden about being born in Albuquerque?” Well, there’s a lot of things. Don’t forget to enjoy them!

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