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Love Letters: Albuquerque

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Karin Leperi is an award-winning travel writer and photographer who has gypsy tendencies to wander the world but still enjoys establishing roots in the deep heritage of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dear Newly Adopted Albuquerque:

I know our relationship is rather new and that I initially chose to experience both American coasts before I found a sweet home within your high desert domain. Please forgive me for being such a late comer to your simple beauties: Your turquoise skies and terra cotta soils provide me with an artist's palette that is both grounded and yet tremendously uplifting in living a life in tune with nature. You have lifted me from the dreary shadows of dark East Coast drizzly days (think Washington, DC) to the bright sunny spirit of the inner soul.

I thank you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my new-found soul for offering me enchantment and spice within the confines of a land that soars with the hawk and also sears with the summer desert heat. You are my yin and yang - ever providing me sage guidance while simultaneously challenging me to find equilibrium and balance in a world of extremes. I look to the skies for my strength and to the soils for my heritage and foundation.

I love that you are both a temptress to the development of spiritual beauty and yet you challenge my parched and desolate yearnings to be a part of something bigger than just me. Yes, Albuquerque, you do that for me and I thank you profusely. You may not have the sophistication and riches of aristocratic Santa Fe; however, that is exactly what draws me to you. You offer rest to the weary and sustenance to the starved because you are connected with the land. You make no excuses, and yet you are the real deal.

Though the Rio Grande River may sometimes only trickle with life-giving H2O and the Sandia Mountains may present a parched acquiescence to an environment always begging for more hydration, the resulting ecosystem is still as beautiful and beguiling as a young seductress in search of her prince that may be lost at sea. You give purpose to life.

I also love your perpetual celebration of Christmas in honoring chilis of both the red and green persuasion. Whether subtle or piquant, you love the entire spectrum of diversity and spiciness, embracing common connections and extreme versions concurrently. That is the richness and depth that you bring to the state of New Mexico and that is why I so eagerly embrace everything about you - the ugly warts as well as the radiant halos. It's because you surpass Santa Fe in embracing this diversity, in culinary and economic disparity, that you gain your strength and become an icon of perseverance and strength in the face of adversity.

You are a rock providing a solid foundation for those that may be standing on shifting sands. You provide a sense of place that is the culmination of a cultural infusion of Native American, Spanish Conquistador, Mexican, German, Confederate, Union, and American injections of linguistic, cultural, and social multifariousness. I thank you for embracing that richness and for recognizing my uniqueness and my different path.

I love you for loving the multitude and diversity of people and the harshness of the land amidst a sea of eternal hope. In the process, you have become the visual representation of dreams, ambitions, and prosperity. Dear Albuquerque: You are the American dream.

I love you and will stand beside you eternally. Please count me in as one of your dedicated citizens of the world.