I’ve lived in New Mexico my entire life, and saying I have a love/hate relationship with it is an understatement. It’s smelly and full of roaches, goatheads and addiction; it’s too hot, too windy, and there’s too much construction, too much crime, and not enough aid or compassion for those in need. There aren’t many artistic opportunities for youth or arts programs in our schools, despite the state’s international reputation for its vibrant art communities. And it’s hard for young people of color like me to get ahead here, stuck between seasonal service jobs and rising rent costs. Like many of my peers, I’ve always felt like this state was a trap.
When I graduated from Taos High, I didn’t really want to go to UNM, but my single mom and all the financial aid I applied for couldn’t cover out-of-state tuition. After completing my undergrad, I wanted to move away but couldn’t afford to do that either. I couldn’t seem to find success at work, or a way to stretch my legs creatively that was also lucrative. I’ve felt directionless even in the MFA program I’m in currently. The state nickname isn’t ‘the Land of Entrapment’ for nothing.
Then, the Land of Entrapment got its very first professional sports team—New Mexico United. I attended their first match on March 9th (and several since then), and in that sea of yellow and black flags, I felt an immense and swelling sense of pride in my community. The air was electric that night, surging with love for not only the players or the game, but for New Mexico itself and all of the different people that call it home. Unless I was out admiring the landscape, I had never felt so proud to be one of those people.
At the time of this blog’s publication, NMU has only one loss and sits in 1st place in the USL Western Conference. Our players receive consistent league accolades and inspire fans of every age. Isotopes Park, or ‘The Lab,’ has become the nucleus of the city in a very short amount of time, and when we root for New Mexico, we cheer in Spanish, English, and Spanglish. I’m proud of what this team has done for this place.
Watching the stunning rise of this team and its passionate fan base, I realize I’ve felt that pride before but didn’t identify it as love for New Mexico. For as long as I’ve known her, Hayley (last year’s Editor-in-Chief) has teased me about how much school spirit I have. I have a tan line from my class ring year-round. I refuse to drink Pistol Pete’s Ale from Bosque Brewing. Even my debit card has Louie Lobo on it, despite my complicated relationship with UNM. Now, I’m obsessed with New Mexico United, and she teases me about that, too. I’ll admit, it’s really an absurd amount of spirit for as much shit as I talk about this place. But she saw something in me that I couldn’t admit before—no matter where I am, my love for New Mexico will always run as deep as the Rio Grande Gorge.
In my 27th year in New Mexico, I finally feel like I can make a difference here. I believe in this place and its people, because we’re diverse, creative and persistent with a high tolerance for capsaicin, and when we band together, we do so unwaveringly. We are the past and the future, and the stories that tie the two together. We’ve adapted to the desert, and resisted generations of assimilation and tyranny in spite of all the forces that would erase us. I’m proud to be from New Mexico and part of our United and Blue Mesa families, and my goal for the magazine this year is to contribute to our community by sharing our spirit both locally and internationally.
I want to thank my home by sharing my stubborn pride and hope with everyone I know, so they know it’s possible to succeed here and to shape our communities into ones we truly feel we belong to. And I extend tremendous thanks to Hayley and to our editorial board for trusting me with Blue Mesa Review’s direction for the next year. You can’t know precisely how excited and grateful I am to be home right now. It’s all sick.
And I know I’m a little late to the game this time, but I’m rooting for New Mexico.