A couple days ago I was having a conversation with two people and one was telling the other about Father Richard Rohr (if you don’t know who he is, you should – google him). She said Rohr had started the Center for Action and Contemplation – which she proceeded to say was in Arizona.
If you’re familiar at all with Rohr and the CAC, then you know it’s not – it’s in New Mexico. Albuquerque to be exact.
She looked at me for confirmation on that detail and I said no, it’s in New Mexico. She then went on to say, “Whatever, they’re the same.”
Ummmmm…. no. They’re not.
I couldn’t bring myself to tell her that because it felt like shaming her in front of the other person. But it’s also not the first time I’ve heard that. Nor is it the most outrageous crime against New Mexico.
It also explains to me why the entire state of New Mexico has an inferiority complex.
New Mexico’s ego needs a bit of a boost.
Yes, it’s gorgeous.
Yes, a lot of people like it there (me included).
Yes, it’s gained a lot of attention since Breaking Bad was filmed there and now Better Call Saul is being filmed there.
Yes, there are a lot of people who want to live there and more people who do.
But on the whole, especially among natives, New Mexico often sounds like the whiny, unpopular kid who wants to know why people don’t like her.
I was there visiting my family a couple of weeks ago when the first episode of the Bachelor that was filmed in Santa Fe aired. You should have heard the news media going on about how poorly New Mexico came off on the show.
Granted, I didn’t see the episode (or the second part that aired a week later), but the media ran clips to illustrate their point. Let’s just say that I didn’t see New Mexico or Santa Fe getting a bad rep, but I saw at least one very ignorant woman (who apparently was in Santa Fe). She appeared to think she was really in Mexico… “Why do they call it New Mexico?” she asked. “They should call it Old Mexico… or just Mexico, that’s what it is.”
This was quickly followed by Better Call Saul’s star, Bob Odenkirk, saying that he liked Albuquerque because it was easy for him to focus on his work because there’s nothing to do there (that ruffled a lot of feathers too). As much as I really like Odenkirk, I think he’s just flat out wrong there – but that’s just me.
New Mexico Magazine often has a section called “One of the 50 is Missing” and it documents stories of when New Mexico was mistaken as outside the United States. Seriously. Some people don’t know it’s part of the union. Nor that it has been for the last 103 years… (NM even edged AZ out – they entered the union the same year but a bit later).
I’ve experienced some of the same stories printed in NM Magazine.
I’ve been asked if I needed a passport to get to another state and people were shocked as to why I didn’t have an accent or can’t really speak Spanish.
I’ve also been told I need to pay international shipping for something coming from Ohio (kid you not).
But through all of this, I’ve pushed it off on other people’s ignorance. And even a couple weeks ago, when I listened to the New Mexican media whine about how poorly the state is portrayed, I wondered why they cared so much.
I wondered, why does NM need the approval of the rest of the country?
But I began to realize why that is during my conversation the other day.
I lived in Ohio for four years and now I’ve lived in Maryland for almost seven – I cannot count how many times some of my closest friends would think I was from Arizona. Why do you remember that state and not New Mexico?
Why did the woman who thought Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation were in Arizona and not New Mexico? More importantly, why does she dismiss both of them as being the same (here’s the odd part, she claims to have lived in Texas for many years…. actually, considering Texas’ relationship to the rest of the country and especially NM, I guess that’s not odd)?
I think for too long, much of the rest of the country, especially the more populous eastern half, has dismissed New Mexico as either (1) part of Mexico, (2) Arizona, or (3) the red-headed step-child nobody wanted (or cared to remember was part of the family to begin with).
No wonder New Mexico has an inferiority complex.
Well as a proud New Mexican who now masquerades as a Marylander – be proud, New Mexico! Don’t listen to what those other people tell you! You have a great state! Yes, it has its issues – but don’t we all?
I’m here to tell you your worth is not dependent upon the ill-educated woman on the Bachelor or Bob Odenkirk. Your worth is wrapped up in friendly people and sunny skies. In Hatch chile and the mystery of the desert. There is something about the air in New Mexico and the richness of the culture, even in spite of its rocky past.
New Mexico is beautiful. It’s time you start acting like it.