Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The First Month In Albuquerque

Well, this weekend Michele and I will have been here a month. Now that most everything except the artwork is unpacked, the furniture set up, we actually did some sightseeing today (Santa Ana Pueblo) and I have finally memorized my new cell phone number, I figured it was time to catch up with you.

The trip here was hard on Tawny. We spent my birthday in Cleveland with the Foxes and when we picked Tawny up at the kennel we could tell she wasn't doing well. Let's just say that we left decent tips in LaQuinta Inns all the way here. The second person we saw here, after the desk clerk at the hotel was the vet. It took about a week and a half but she seems to be recovered. On the other hand the trip was good for the rabbits. Most of the power struggles seem to have ended and a new equilibrium has been reached, or at least d├ętente.

For us the trip was interesting. Missouri was scary in many ways. Oklahoma had a toll road!? What's that about? Michele's dad met us in Amarillo and I dare say none of us really care to go back there anytime soon. 

Thankfully he was with us for a full 2 weeks helping unpack, run errands, fix things and keeping us both relatively calm. He met a friend from Asheville here and they drove back together. 500 miles the first day. 1000 the second! He may not be 80 anymore but it would be hard to tell. He's flying back for 2 weeks in September/October for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, the Balloon Festival and hopefully save me from having to help hang the artwork.

Somehow, even though this house is roughly the same size as the Buffalo house, not everything seems to fit even taking into account not having a basement but we are figuring it out. Michele has spent endless hours setting up the house and organizing while I've been at work. It took me a good week and a half to get my desk set up and the books on the shelves. They are still out of order but getting there.

While no congregation, or place, is perfect I think we have found a good fit here. People seem willing to consider new ways of looking at things and are pretty open to change. There are issues to be dealt with but I think none are insurmountable and most have already started sorting themselves out. It's hard to remember my first couple of years in Anchorage and Buffalo because by the time we left everything was well known. Sometimes I feel like I need a steeper learning curve but I am starting to see patterns and figure things out. What has really impressed me is that we have been averaging 120 people on Friday nights and 40 on Shabbat mornings. People keep apologizing for the low turnouts because it is summer and people are out of town. If that's true, we may never get to use the chapel during the school year on Friday nights. We are already opening the doors to adjacent rooms to fit everyone in.

I don't think Michele has put 50 miles on the Miata she's so busy in the house and I am driving about 1/2 of what I drove in Buffalo. Not having 2 buildings is quite a time and fuel saver. The synagogue is straight downhill from the house. If I use a couple of teaspoons of gas to get there I'd be surprised. Coming home is a different story. We both feel some effect from the altitude but I think I'm ready to break out the bike for a short ride this weekend.

The folks I work with here are accepting me (and even my "sense of humor) and we are breaking each other in. However, I still miss my co-workers in Anchorage and Buffalo. I met with a wedding couple last week and when I asked for their folder I realized I forgot to tell my assistant that I want each couple to have a folder. I didn't even think about it because Tina always just had it ready for me.

The congregants have welcomed us into their homes. We have 2 – 3 welcome events a week mostly dinners and Sunday brunches. We could have lots more. We're planning a couple of open houses at the synagogue before the holidays. We have met some folks we are pretty sure will be friends as we get to know them better. There are lots of former Clevelanders and Buffalonians here and even a few former Anchorageites.

It has been easier to adjust to the heat than I thought. For the first couple of weeks it was in the high 90's but only 5% humidity. Now that the afternoon/evening rains have started it is more humid but the temperature is a bit lower. In my work clothes I'm mostly inside or in the car. At home it's shorts and tee shirts. Dress here makes dress in Alaska and Buffalo seem very formal. How much so? I am constantly being told I'M too dressed up.

So that is the summary. We're having dinner with our first guest from Buffalo this week and then overnight company in August include 2 couples who used to live in Anchorage. Michele's dad will be here in September and by then we also hope to have a friend from Anchorage who now lives in Taos come down for a visit or the holidays. So the inn is booking up – get your reservations in soon!