When I was five-years-old, my parents and I drove to southern California from Illinois in their light green unairconditioned Oldsmobile. 


I remember quite a bit about being in California and later, the train ride back to Illinois with my mother, but I don’t remember anything at all about the long drive to California except that we stopped and spent the night in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


As a five-year-old, everything about being in Albuquerque was a new and electrifying sensory experience.  Even the name – Albuquerque! — was exotic and lyrical and fun to say.


As I walked with my parents from the motel to a nearby diner I remember that I felt like Dorothy when she woke up and found that the tornado had dropped her house in Oz — I wasn’t in Illinois anymore.  Instead of the familiar horizontal stripes of yellow cornfields and blue sky, this landscape was a hounds tooth pattern of oranges and pinks and browns and other kinds of browns all swirling and mixing together.


While we were eating, a sand storm blew in and when we stepped outside of the diner, hot wind and gritty sand pelted my face and threatened to blow me away.  My dad grabbed one of my hands and my mom the other and then they leaned shoulder into the wind and pressed towards the motel.


As we made our way across the street, each step a staggering effort, a gust of wind blew both of my feet completely out behind me. I clearly remember, at that moment, the sensation of flying.  I remember the feel of the scorching wind slapping my face and the tingling stinging blast of sand on my bare legs and the grainy pixels of desert colors I could see through squinted eyes.


As my feet flew out behind me, I was not afraid of the mighty gritty wind, but exhilarated.  I was fearless.  I knew my parent’s hands that were gentle and comforting were also capable and strong and reliable.  I was secure in the knowledge that neither they nor their grip would fail me.  And because of that I was able to fly without fear, not just in that storm, but in many storms to come.



26 thoughts on “Albuquerque

  1. Beautiul story! Having lived in Albuquerque for a couple of years and now living in Arizona, I know those sand storms come up out of now where. Sometimes they are so windy and full of sand you have to pull over when you are driving, to ride it out, until it’s clear to drive again.


  2. live in the ‘Q’ too …. still have sand storms, but oh so much more! Year-round outdoor activities, Old Town and now ABQ uptown, just getting better and better.


  3. Great story! I’ve lived in Albuquerque my whole life and I’m happy that you have such a loving memory of it. I have quite a few myself.


  4. This reminds me of when we went to Las Vegas when I was about that age–in my mind we slept underneath that famous big neon cowboy though I’m sure we didn’t. Dad said we could sleep in two states at once because we’d sleep with the RV right on the border.


  5. PLEASE enter this in Scribbit’s Write-Away contest this month. The theme is “Going PLaces” and this would win hands down.



  6. I love how your blog always awakens dormant memories in me. This time it was summertime car trips when we would drive for hours on end. We probably stayed and the same motel in ALB.

    It was such a big deal on those trips when we would stop and get a bottled drink. Our normal drink at home was watered down KoolAid or milk so it was a treat to have a soft drink. After much contemplation, I would get an Orange Crush and my brother a Nehi grape.


  7. Great word picture of our parents’ love and support, if we are blessed to have (or to have had) that.


  8. AM, I know it’s a bit off topic, but as I said before, I’m currently going through your archives. I’ve just read your post: “A Diamond Is Forever But Your Fertility Is Not” and I’m wondering why you and Robbin don’t consider adoption? If you are passionate and somewhat regretful for waiting to conceive, but still don’t want to throw away those baby clothes, why isn’t adoption considered (or blogged about? 🙂 Just a question…and not judgementally asked! I value your opinion, thats all!


  9. Great story! Have you ever been back? Although, I don’t know if I’d want to change the way you remember that town after seeing it through ‘adult’ eyes.


  10. what a beautiful story! It made me think of how the Lord always holds us up, even when we take a leap of faith and seem to be doing the impossible.


  11. Wow, I can’t say I have very many vivid memories from my early childhood. And I definitely don’t have the ability to paint what memories I do have into such vivid pictures with my words. You’re blessed with a gift, and I’m so glad you share it!

    Also, I can hardly ever hear the word Albequerque without thinking of Bugs Bunny and his pronunciation: Albakoykee.


  12. Wow, great story. What an inspiration to make sure our kids know that they are safe in our arms and especially in the arms of Jesus. Thanks for sharing and encouraging us.


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