Jose A. Mosqueda | The Poly Post

Take me home to country roads

By Lann Nguyen, Oct. 10, 2023

Albuquerque, New Mexico, hosts the biggest balloon fiesta in the world, it’s home to the hit AMC drama “Breaking Bad,” it’s known for Roswell where the aliens are the town’s claim to fame – and it’s where you will try the best red and green chilies in your lifetime. But besides all that, it’s where I belong — it’s where I thrive.  

When I close my eyes and go to my happy place I imagine being back home in New Mexico where the air is crisp, and the vast open space is visible from my front porch. Upon opening my eyes, I see cars piled up for miles on the 57 freeway and hear horns honking, which is disturbing here in California. 

Family transcends all, no matter how far apart we might be from one another, the memories binding us are forever. I hold one particular memory near to my heart. My nana’s birthday was an event to remember with everyone in attendance on the front lawn as we surprised my nana with mariachis her favorite.  

The sky was clear blue, the river was rushing by in front of the scenic view of the beautiful pink Sandia Mountains and there were family members from several generations celebrating. 

The joy in my heart and in everyone’s eyes was irreplaceable as older generations sat and regaled the good old days and little ones ran around soaking up the sun.  

There is so much history in the house my grandpa built with his two hands, and we just added one more glorious memory to this place that already was so rich with our family history.   

In comparison to the hustle of Orange County I currently reside within, New Mexico is country living at its finest.   

I remember sitting in the kitchen with my nana rolling dough and crafting the perfect biscochito, only to sneak into a cookie jar late at night and devour the comforting treat. The carniceria is so thin and crisp, covered with green chili and unlike any beef jerky I’m able to find in “The Golden State.”  

New Mexican food consists of red and green chile which is in everything — burgers, sushi, soups, burritos, you name it. Sopapillas — which are not tortilla chips covered in cinnamon, but rather light, fluffy, golden flaky layers of dough drizzled with sweet honey. Biscochitos, the state cookie, are a crisp, buttery, mouthwatering sugar cookie speckled with anise seeds passed down through several generations to accompany coffee.  

Jose A. Mosqueda | The Poly Post

The small town I’m from consists of family and those who have a connection to my family. It’s a place where I can wake up every day and lay eyes on my loved ones, see the beauty nature has to offer in the Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande River and the quaint adobe houses that do not strive to tower over anyone like skyscrapers, but instead compliment the landscape.  

Back home the scent in the air is a smoky fire-roasted aroma because my Nana’s making red chile from scratch. Waving at neighbors as they ride by on their horses and stopping to talk for a minute that turns into an hour is uplifting.   

My heart yearns for New Mexico, I cannot help but compare California to my home constantly and it only deepens my sorrow every moment I am not there.    

Going out to the Sandia pueblo where my uncle’s horses roam free lives in my mind rent-free. Seeing such beautiful creatures trotting through wide-open fields of tall grass, hair flying in the wind and smelling that fresh, crisp air is my saving grace.    

Big city traffic makes my heart pound, surrounded by people who are always in a rush. Life is too precious and too short to not stop and say hello to the people around you.    

We always nod and wave to every person walking or in a car we pass by in New Mexico, most people in California don’t even look up from their phones long enough to catch my smile and make eye contact.    

I miss the slower way of life back home. There is always time in the morning to sit with loved ones, have a cup of coffee with cookies, afterward a big breakfast which often consists of eggs, green and red chile, papas and fresh bacon. The special part is all of my family, who live within a five minute radius, all make time to join in and start the day together.  

There is always time to say a prayer before bed and sometimes we’d even stay up late in the kitchen working on crossword puzzles and snacking on green chile dip. 

The little things are prioritized and it’s a part of a deep-seeded routine that has remained the same as long as I can remember. People work and run errands but we always remember what is truly important and we are grounded in that.   

In the small town of Bernalillo, New Mexico, where I call home, Instagram and TikTok do not rule the world and folks aren’t so concerned about fancy appearances or superficial interests like who has the nicest car or who has the newest iPhone.  

I’m certain that everyone’s hometown has a special place in their heart, but mine is so much so I pay homage to it every day and would write an ode to it if I could.   

We are often reminded of our home when we come across a smell or a feeling familiar and comforting sending us back in time to a place where we were molded and grew to become the people we are today.   

The unique aspects of a person that make each individual special stems from where we come from, not only the land but also the people — our people.   

Education is important to individuals, but it can also be a sense of pride for families. My father attended Cal Poly Pomona and that hits home for a sentimental reason that will always make me proud to be a Bronco.     

I will take what I’ve learned in the big city and apply it in a way that will help me be successful in my life, but this experience only cemented my decision to go back home after graduation.   

My roots run deep there, my Nana and Grandpa were born down the street from the house they raised six kids in until their time on this Earth was over.   

Family is instrumental to who I am as a person, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.       

Being so far away from home has deprived me of so many irreplaceable opportunities. My Nana — who was my best friend passed away during the pandemic. Amidst the craziness of restricted traveling, I was unable to get back in time to say goodbye properly and that will always be my biggest regret. Ever since, I have suffered unimaginably filled with guilt, countlessly cursing living so far away knowing the distance was to blame and the regret I am filled with is inconsolable.    

Whatever led me here to Cal Poly Pomona was meant to be. I appreciate the people I have met, the memories I have made and the sights I’ve seen but nothing compares to driving up that dusty dirt road that leads me back home.    

Feature image courtesy of Jose A. Mosqueda

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