I woke up way too early this morning, and I had only intended to wake up very early this morning. But considering the trip I’m taking, it’s completely understandable that when I woke up at 3:30 this morning to use the bathroom I couldn’t get back to sleep. When 4 a.m. hit and I realized if I fell back asleep I’d be a surly, pissy mess when my alarm went off at 5, if not sleeping through the alarm, I said to hell with it and made coffee and then sat down to write this post.
Today I’m heading back to Albuquerque, New Mexico. And this has been a long-waited for trip, one that ends with the honor of my officiating the wedding ceremony of two dear friends, Cinta Garcia de la Rosa and Mark Stone. I’ve watched the two of them form a friendship that has turned into a perfect match I think everyone wishes they could find. Never have I seen a couple better suited for one another, and being around Cinta and Mark in person (which isn’t an easy feat as I live in Dallas and they split their time between Phoenix and Spain), I walk away beaming with joy at having spent time with two people who are meant to be together. God bless social media and the way it makes it possible to find those who are your true soul mates.
So you can imagine how incredibly honored I was to have them ask me to officiate their wedding ceremony. And while the location of the ceremony has changed a few times, my plan for the trip has remained the same: horrifically terrified of flying, I planned on driving. And I’m a fan of road trips: the longest ones I’ve taken were to my wedding in 2004 in Las Vegas, and I’ve driven from Dallas to the Pennsylvania area twice.
But one of the biggest draws to not sucking it up and asking my doctor for an extra large dose of Xanax to board a plane is the chance to return to New Mexico, a state my father took me to in 1994 for the yearly Albuquerque balloon festival. We flew out in October, and my first glimpse through the airport windows had me breathless and I immediately fell in love. Followed quite quickly by the realization I had received my period two weeks early and getting bitch slapped with altitude sickness. Despite that? It was one of the momentous trips of my life, and I experienced a peace in New Mexico I had never before felt in my life.
My parents divorced in the spring of 1994, and our trip to Albuquerque (and the surrounding areas) was Dad’s way of bringing some healing to our now family of three. It is impossible to not let go of your hurts and worries when you stand in so much natural beauty, when you see God’s paintbrush right before your very eyes, when you walk through pueblos and see artifacts far older than anything you’ve seen before in your life. When you see the real beauty of Mother Nature and how she has shaped our world.
We returned to Texas several days later, and I was forever changed from the trip.
I’ve been back to New Mexico since: a business trip or two, driving through to and from my wedding in 2004. But yesterday afternoon, while finishing packing for the trip I’m leaving on today, I realized that its just a few short weeks shy of when my father took us to the state twenty years ago. And two months after his death, I’m still reeling. My heart’s still quite broken, and I’m aware it will remain so for some time. There’s no expiration date on grieving. But knowing that by this time tomorrow I will be in a place that was one that brought healing to my heart twenty years ago has taken some of the edge off the hurt I’ve been facing since we lost my father.
During Dad’s final week, we had talked about my up-coming trip. And having a more lucid moment, Dad looked at me and said, “Make sure you drink lots of water the higher up you get in the mountains to avoid altitude sickness. But hey at least you don’t have to worry about getting your period this time around.” And I’d laughed and made a crass joke about if I did happen to get my period, the New Mexico truly is the most healing place on the planet.
And this trip is one I most definitely need. Where I’ve taken time off and been away from my kids since beginning life as an author, that time off has been related to work in one way or another: My week long trip to the east coast two years ago was to research a book, and my week off last October was to run IndieVengeance Day. But this will be an actual vacation, one I most definitely need. And it will end with some of my favorite people on the planet around. They might not be the family I was born into, or the family I was raised in, but they’re my chosen family, and I’m grateful for them.
Lots of Love,
~Amber Jerome Norrgard