For those who do not know or are not here, the American Studies Assiociation is in Albuquerque this year. New Mexico has a special place in my heart as it is one of many places that I visit regularly because of family in the area. Having nomadic parents ties you to land and people in a way that rootedness does not.
NM is woven into my childhood memories and my adult life in ways that make me miss the sun bouncing off red rock, the sound of a rooster first thing in the morning, and the smell of green chilis and strong coffee wafting from neighborhood houses and businesses alike. I miss it like I miss the sound of beating rain at night in Oregon or the laughter and loud crack of dominoes in the evening in la isla. Or the purple of the trees and the smell of cider in the fall in Massachusetts or the ominous dark black clouds and the urban meets medieval architecture against the rolling green hills of Edinburgh. Yes, I think the beauty of New Mexico rivals that of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas for me and though no one understands how two places in the world that are so different would be so reaffirming for this little celt, I tell you, outside of La Isla, there are no two other places I’d rather be.
So while others are doing the post conference tourist thing, I will be happily going to my favorite restaurant by the UNM campus to eat stuffed sopapillas and stopping by the only black owned spa and hair salon in the city for vegan soul food. (No, it’s not like the real thing but it’s good.) I’ll be visiting the New Mex Now Mix Exhibit, which given what a sucker I am for mixed media can’t help but be joy inducing, and no doubt while I am there I am going to buy another Patssi Valdez print. They should redub my office the Valdez annex. And of course, my cousins and I will go for a long slow horse back ride and an even longer and slower meal in their small southwest valley home like when we were kids.
I know for a lot of people conferences are a chance to catch up with old academic friends and network. But I’m too old (age and career wise) for networking and my academic friends and I will have plenty of time for hanging out during conference hours. This time the conference is just an excuse to remember a piece of home.
shhh don’t tell.