I’m a high desert girl. I grew up hiking & camping in the southern Rockies & every summer was spent in the canyon country of the four corners area of the U.S. Nothing makes me happier than big wide open skies, the wind rustling through Aspen trees, or sitting and watching the light dance across the red rocks of a canyon. For these and so many other reasons, Albuquerque is my hometown. It’s where I grew up. It’s where all of my family still lives. It’s where Kyle and I met, fell in love, and started our life together.
But I have a second hometown. Part of my heart belongs to the high desert, but another part belongs to the Loveliest Village on the Plains: Auburn, Alabama. Auburn is where I was lucky enough to go to college and anyone who has spent time there will tell you what a special place it is. Albuquerque is where I grew up, but Auburn is where I became an adult, and both places have special significance and personal meaning for me.
So, of course, I wanted to make one last trip to Auburn before we leave, and I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend there just this past week. I stayed with my good friend, Chad, and had the chance to visit with a few other really good friends from my college days. Sadly, they are all camera shy so no photos of them. But it was so nice to be able to spend some extended quality time with all of them, especially Chad & his sweet wife, Lisa. I think it had been at least 15 years since we really got to hang out and it was fun to catch up.
One of my favorite things to do in Auburn is to wander around campus. I like to retrace the paths I took when I was a student and remember what it was like to be here back then. It’s funny how some things change and some things still look exactly the same.
I also visited the Toomer’s Oaks while I was there. It’s been an Auburn tradition since the 1950’s to roll the corner where Toomer’s Drugs is located when we have something to celebrate, but most especially an Auburn Tigers Victory. If you’re not an Auburn fan, you may not know that the trees were poisoned last year by a crazy Alabama fan after we won the national championship. Nobody is sure if the oaks are going to make it. The afternoon I was there they were looking a bit worse for wear, but still had a few leaves. Makes me sad to think of losing them, but the Auburn spirit & tradition will continue whether those trees are there or not.
And then I was lucky enough to spend time with the Siddique family. The Siddiques are the parents of my good friend, Asim, who we lost in 2006. I’ve stayed close with them and it’s always such a delight to go and visit them. They are the kindest, most endearing folks and I’m lucky to have them in my life.
We spent time visiting, playing with their funny cat, Tiger, and talking about India. They built a memorial college in Asim’s name in their ancestral village in northern India. Classes started last fall and Kyle and I plan to visit it in the fall of 2013. If we’re super lucky, maybe the Siddiques will come and meet up with us. Shana also taught me a few of her Indian cooking secrets and then another good friend of Asim’s, Lara, came for dinner. Lara, how did I end up with no pictures of you and me?!
All in all a fantastic trip, especially in just three days. But it got me thinking about the meaning of home and what makes a place so. Is it the people, the place, the experiences that build a connection? I think for me, it’s a combination of all three, but most especially the people and experiences. It’s hard to leave those behind, but I know I always carry a bit of them with me wherever I go and that helps to make leaving a bit easier.
Now that I’ve got my Auburn fix, it’s back to the Q for a bit of last minute packing. We’re moving this weekend. All of the things we are keeping are going to my parent’s house and K & I are moving back into my old room for the last 2 months. Then we’ll get the house all set for the estate sale next month. So much to do!
Where is your hometown? What makes it special?