Notes on the Journey

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Albuquerque and the Art of Uncool

I love uncool people.  People who are authentic and unafraid to be themselves and don't care what that looks like or what anyone else might think.  One of the things I love about Albuquerque is that it's uncool.  Santa Fe and Taos can be cool, but Albuquerque is not.  We are deliciously uncool.

Everytime I tell someone who's not from New Mexico that I live in New Mexico, they ask if I live in Santa Fe.  It might be because that's the city most identified with New Mexico, but New Mexico is so much more than Santa Fe.

Last night I went to a typical and wonderful Albuquerque event.  The NM Jazz Workshop puts on a summer series of concerts at the outside stage at the Albuquerque Museum.  It's a wonderful series of concerts by mostly local musicians.  Last night was "Ladies Sing the Blues" in memory of and in honor to Etta James.  Four wonderful female vocalists sang in homage to Etta and they were all fantastic in different ways.  The one at end the evening was Zenobia, an older and extremely experienced singer through whom music flows unobstructed.  She played the keyboard and sang and blew us all away.  She was so pure and open and tuned in and comfortable with what she was doing.  She was in command of the band even though she referred to herself as "just the chick singer."  She was so infectious that the other three singers who'd gone on before her came back on stage and sang backup for her.  Everybody wanted to join in.  The dance floor was filled with people, all of whom were dancing their asses off and having the best time.  The experience was such a gift for all of us who happened to be there.

The people at the event were all ages, from a young baby, the granddaughter of one of the singers, who was held on stage while her grandmother wailed the blues; to people way up in their years.  And, every age was represented on the dance floor.  It's this kind of all-inclusive, fun, anything goes event that happens in Albuquerque on a regular basis.

There's a relief to living in a place where one isn't judged by the way they look, or how many pounds they're packing, or what they do for a living.  The people here are genuine and sincere.  They mean what they say and go out of their way to help each other.  They have fun and enjoy life in simple ways.  They don't put on pretenses, and they accept each other.  Of course, these are generalizations, but truly, most of the people I've met since I moved here fall into these generalizations.  I'm sure there are bad apples somewhere, but they're hiding, because I haven't run into them yet.

Albuquerque is a comfortable place.  It's an easy place to live.  The pressures here are as real as anywhere else, but somehow don't seem as intense.  The traffic never overwhelms and people are considerate to others when they drive.  The prices are reasonable.  And, it's beautiful...really beautiful.

We're considered an economically depressed city.  And, it's not to say we don't have our problems.  But, there are riches here that can't be measured by statistics.  How can you put a finite value on the beauty of looking out over the Western mesas to the volcanoes and feeling the expansiveness of all that space?  How can you put a finite value on the Sandia Mountains that ring the Eastern side of the city and loom over us with their protective grace?  How can you put a finite value on the Rio Grande River that flows through the city and the beautiful Bosque area that surrounds it?  How can you put a finite value on the amazing sky we have?  Sometimes filled with clouds and lightning and Weather, with a capital "W"...sometimes clear blue all the way to the horizon...but always huge and alive and present.

The NM Jazz Workshop and Zenobia and all the singers and players from last night's concert are just a few of the reasons why I love Albuquerque.  The full list is long and constantly being added to.  But, wherever you live, I hope you love it there.

No comments:

Post a Comment