Rising in the Ranks

Okay. Okay, okay. I *might* be ready to talk about the moving thing without freaking the fuck out now.

I’ve lived in New Mexico all my life. Like most kids who grow up in one place, I HATED New Mexico while I was growing up. It’s so hot out all the time. Autumn, my favorite season, doesn’t really exist here. Summer just sort of steam rolls through until November at which point it starts cooling down. Then Winter makes a brief appearance and is done by February. It’s great if you love heat more than cold which I? Do not.

We have very little green here. The heat and general lack of rain fall means most plants out here are desert-y. And we’re not full on desert. I grew up in the northern part of the state and it’s not as bad there. Living now in Albuquerque is more desert like because the Albuquerque valley is on the edge of the Chihuahua Desert. Any further south than here and there is nothing but flat, dry, empty nothingness.

My favorite lack of green story was when I was flying back to Albuquerque in high school. Tourists on the plane ahead of me were excited to visit but the husband asked his wife why there wasn’t green down there. It was April so anywhere else it would be a valid question. His wife said something about it still being Winter so it would be green soon. Being a jack ass high schooler, I laughed audibly before explaining that it definitely wasn’t winter anymore and that was as green as it gets.

As I got older, however, I began to have appreciation for this place I call home. We have enormous skies. Anywhere I am in this city, unless it’s in very specific locations, I can see the sun set. The balloon fiesta every year is gorgeous. I never go to the actual like, events held in the park (because early and cold and crowds) but it doesn’t matter. I live near the north-east heights and any time I had to drive on Tramway I would get to see hundreds of balloons dotting the skies. It is a unique sight that I won’t get to see anywhere else.

The chile, I am going to miss the bajeezus out of. I know I can order Hatch green chile online now and have it shipped wherever, which is the only thing keeping me afloat right now. The general culture and atmosphere here is also unique. Eating posole at Christmas, seeing the farolitos twinkle around people’s houses… I’m going to miss being invited to feast days at the pueblo, where we go from relative to relative, eating and eating and eating until you can’t anymore. These are things that I didn’t realize were super unique to New Mexico until I started talking more with people not from here.

But all of those fun memories aren’t enough to change some unfortunate facts about this place. Have you ever seen the various lists compiled by different organizations, focused on child welfare and the like, that ranks the states of our union (including D.C. as its own separate thing) from best to worst in terms of raising children? They weigh different aspects of the state, like healthcare, education, affordability, median income, things to do as a family, etc. and all of those factors together determine the rank that state has on this list.

This year? New Mexico was #51.

Dead last.

The WORST place to raise a child in.

As a teenager, I never cared about this statistic but I am a mom now. I care very much about this statistic. Granted, New Mexico hasn’t always been last but the highest I’ve ever seen it is #48. That’s still… Really, really bad. That’s not where I want to raise a family.

Minnesota? Why, they came in #4 this year. In fact, over the last three or four years or so I can’t remember ever seeing them place lower than #6 on the list. That is fan-fucking-tastic. That is a leap in quality I can get behind.

There are a few other things that made us choose Minnesota. We didn’t just stick our hands in a hat of papers and choose randomly, I swear! But this fact is the biggest one. We are going from #51 to #4. It is a 1,200-ish mile move and we still haven’t found a place to live in yet. As scared as I am, I just have to look at Ivy to remember why I wanted to do this in the first place.