Over the past couple of months living here in Albuquerque, I have observed a few things that differ from Chicago. An obvious one is the weather. Mike still says, “What a nice day!” on a DAILY basis. We do have chilly mornings, but by lunch we are peeling off the layers. The sun is always shining! Seasonal Affective Disorder would have an impossible time existing in these parts. Long Chicago winters and parts of the Pacific Northwest are wondering who took their sun. Albuquerque did. All of it. This (somewhat) bleeding heart likes equal distribution of all things (in theory). With all this sun, I feel like how the well-endowed woman should. I see her and think, ‘That’s where my boobs went.’ The Good Lord gave them all to her and left me looking like Flat Stanley after the bulletin board fell on him. The Good Lord gave Albuquerque all the sun, and I’m so sorry (not really) to all my gloomy friends living elsewhere.
What’s a girl to blame her bad mood on when there is constant happy sunshine? Oh, the dilemma. And what am I going to do this winter when I can’t complain about my nose hairs freezing? Does this mean I have to retire the sleeping bag coat? Shall we put our snow shovel outside as decorative yard art? My Stuart Weitzman winter boots that I justified buying because of the YEARS of use I’d get out of them may have to go since the white salt stain line will definitely stand out here. There is probably no salt for melting ice because there is no ice! Just the cubed kind for your margaritas.
The next offense: Good drivers! Like respectable quasi-suburbanites, we drive everywhere now. I have even seen people drive to pick up their mail. Mail! That’s another one. It does not come to your house in our neighborhood. It goes to a centralized box that you have to walk (or drive) to in order to check for your bills and flyers. It is only a hop and a skip away, but I am less likely to check it every day except when expecting a package. Package! That’s another one. There is going to be a lot more online shopping since Albuquerque does not have the plethora of stores Chicago did. I never really did online shopping much because I like to see before I buy. However, armed with a lovely Container Store gift card without a Container Store in the state of New Mexico, I am left with no other choice. It IS fun getting packages so I guess the trade-off is fair even with the walk to pick it up. At least I get to walk over in constant sunshine.
Back to driving. We all know that speed limit signs are there to tell us what number we can drive 10 mph faster than. Just like yellow lights are there to tell us to put the pedal to the medal and speedily beat that red. Apparently, not here. It seems as though people drive the speed limit or maybe a meager 5 mph faster. When I go to my normal 10 over, I suddenly feel like Danica Patrick on the race track. This may be a part of the “Land of Mañana” mentality that I have been hearing about here. No one is in a hurry. How is anyone supposed to develop ulcers around here?!
We have a 4-way-stop intersection in our neighborhood. We all know that stop signs are really yield signs in disguise. All bad city drivers dutifully roll through them. Not here. It seems as though people actually stop at them. They not only stop but they do the hokey pokey and turn themselves around before accelerating again. If there is any doubt as to who was there first, they let you go instead of racing to push the gas before the other gets a chance. They also probably yield to all people, cyclists, lizards, and ants. I learned the hard way that cars are supposed to do that in all situations. An angry cyclist clearly mouthed “motherfu*#$@!” at me the other day. I plead bad city driving and profusely apologize for almost (I did eventually stop) breaking the spandex rules of the road. (There is A LOT of spandex here.) At least he proved that not everybody here is super friendly. I almost wanted to hug the foul-mouth @#$%(*@!. I am so glad that I did not honk at him. Then I am sure I would have been deported back to Chi-town. I have not heard a single honk since we have lived here. And if I have, I am positive it was Mike in the other car.
Lastly, where are the trick-or-treaters? The Becketts were dressed and ready to ruin our teeth at the normal hour of 5pm when there is still plenty of sunlight to see your wandering kids while
neglecting them catching up with neighbors. We looked out at our new neighborhood and heard crickets chirping. Not a goulish soul in sight. Mike suggested we drive to Ethan’s school and take the kids around that area where there might be more children. Leaving our basket of candy outside, we hopped in the car and drove over and around without sighting a single costumed child. I remembered the young lady at the nail salon had mentioned that some folks go to the mall and suggested we do the same. I googled THE mall and found that it required canned food donations for a homeless shelter, which is awesome by the way. We stopped at a store and picked up our admission and finally found costumed children and candy! Although Mike thought it better and easier being indoors and short steps away from each stop, I could not get over getting candy at Lids and Macy’s. Oh, the sweet days of old when our ‘hood closed off the streets and had a massive block party with mobs of people drinking trick-or-treating in neighborly love. Shout out to the Hartland Park crew! We definitely missed you.
In the end, the kids were happy to have their buckets full. We got back home, lit our lame little jack-o-lantern, and put them to bed. Afterwards, we actually had some trick-or-treaters come to the house. I was so happy that I gave handfuls out to the lucky few who showed up at our door. And it was truly only a few. I realized afterwards that people here probably go out later than what we are used to doing. We must be the only ones who eat dinner with the AARP crowd, trick-or-treat in daylight, and have the kids in bed before prime time TV. We still had our doorbell ringing at 8:45pm when it was so dark out that I had to rely on night vision to get the candy in their bags.
In time, we will learn and get used to all the differences. Acclimation will surely come in due process. When I find myself driving a rental car in Chicago during Christmastime, I will most likely stop at a fake yield sign, do the hokey pokey, let all God’s creatures cross before me and listen to the sweet, melodic sounds of multiple cars honking at me. It will be music to my ears.