It's A-L-B-U-Q-U-E-R-Q-U-E. I pronounced it as "Al-boo-qwair-qway" in my head when I first learned how to spell it. Other than that, I had absolutely no feelings about Albuquerque. I remember a few obscure reference to the city in a Bugs Bunny cartoon as featured here:
Driving from the humid and green state of Nebraska to the dry desolation of New Mexico was a shock to my senses. Where in the world was I being taken? I was waiting to pass a sign on the side of the road that said, "TURN BACK NOW. ABANDON ALL HOPE."
I had lived in Omaha for 13 years, as long as I could remember and I was leaving my home and friends to move across the country my senior year of high school. Things could have been really bad. In fact, it probably should have been a much worse. I feel like I cheated the system and skipped all of the bad parts as seen in most movies like where the new student sits alone at a lunch table and then escapes into the bathroom to cry in a stall. I never did that. I can thank joining band for most of that because I feel like I had an entire circle of people ready to welcome me when I moved in. It was just so easy to find people to connect with. I am incredibly blessed.
There are a lot of great things about Albuquerque. I was introduced to the wondrous green chile which I grew to love. I saw the most incredible sunsets and lived next to stunning mountains. I fell into a magnificent ward who took me in and made me a part of their family. I met some of my best friends, people I cannot imagine my life without today. I grew up a lot that year and figured out a huge lesson: home is not a place or a fixed location; it is where you are surrounded by people you love and they love you in return.
Omaha is my home.
Albuquerque is my home.
Provo is my home.