Pictures From Home: New Mexico, Enchanted

Despite popular belief, New Mexico is in the United States. If you haven’t seen it, this is all I can say:

The sky stretches the horizons and blushes at sunset. Colors of passion and cooling. Some days, clouds drift in cotton candy formations, thinning and stretching into the blue. The nights are crisp and clear like a large drop of saline was spread over the land.

I was born on these nights, raised during these days, and cannot believe I only appreciate it now that I am gone. New Mexico is a place of rub-your-eyes beauty. The land of enchantment, they rightfully say.

I was raised off the grid in a home any artist would give their eye or ear for. My house was made from mud and straw, with large windows. We didn’t have TV, but who needs it with the view?

The heat is dry and the altitude is high, like being halfway to outer space. Meaty snakes sunbathed on large rocks, and coyotes howled. New Mexico is home to wild horses, roadrunners, mountain lions, jackrabbits, lizards, cows, and spiders reportedly found only in the Middle East. The cities grow slowly, and the animals notice.

I think of BB guns in the backyard shooting towards the mountains. Hatch green chile making my nose drunk, my stomach clench. Lyrical Spanish terms of endearment like a verbal bear hug. “Mi hija,” “mi hijo.” A low rider with a new coat of paint that looks like liquid candy. The oldest, beat-up truck you have ever seen, still running down Cerrillos Road.

Writing about New Mexico makes me feel trite, because all the adjectives and images are corny. But how do you describe a sky that is truly the most beautiful thing you have ever seen? Or a face that makes you feel warm and wanted, without being similar? Or sitting on a cactus? You really can’t, unless you have been to New Mexico.

All photos by Emily Alben.

Every August, Sarah Lawrence becomes our place of residence again. We all gather from elsewhere, whether it’s a train ride away in Manhattan or a day-long plane to Chandigarh, India. At orientation, the first question we asked each other was, “Where are you from?” Pictures from Home is a closer look at the answer.

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