I once wrote that home is not where the heart is, but your heart is a home. I never wanted to live in Albuquerque. In fact, when we moved to New Mexico, I hated it. I missed the city. I missed my girlfriend. (Whatever that means to a fifth-grader.)
At any rate, I despised New Mexico for years. It's one of the reasons I wanted to start touring so badly. This time last year, though, our local campus pastor taught out of Jeremiah 29:4-8...
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare..."
Now, I don't think God exiled me to Albuquerque from California the way he exiled the Israelites to Babylon, but I do think that he's been challenging me with the idea of engaging my city's culture, rather than constantly criticizing it as compared to the green grass beyond my fence in the cities that I visit on tour.
All that to say, we closed on a house in Albuquerque yesterday. There are a thousand other places that would have been better choices for a musician / artist. While the rest of our friends move to East Nashville, Albuquerque's getting riled up about the corporate progress of a BJ's Brewhouse. Not exactly the appeal for DIY artists crying "anarchy!" At the same time, call it idealistic - and maybe it is that same pushing against the grain - there is a part of me that wants to believe the answer is not just to up an move away. Maybe there are other creatives who would invest into the changes we'd like to create here.
I think I've already seen some of that. Renovation in different parts of the city. More people are moving into the Nob Hill / University district. Folks like Kinsmen Creative forming media collectives. A lot of the dudes at Gasworks coming up. JL and Screen Kings are killing it with printing. Ericksen Linn winning awards at Star Tattoo. Mars Hill ABQ has an incredibly talented group of young artists serving alongside and outside of the church. Hakim Bellamy doing so much for the community. Beer culture is growing and I swear La Cumbre Brewing Co. has some of the best selections I've ever come across. Andy Othling at Lowercase Noises just destroying everything he does.
So, I guess we'll be in Albuquerque for a while. As touring artists, Brandi and I are excited to finally be able to play host for other travelers doing the same gig, and blessing them the ways we've been blessed so many times over the years. I hope this house can be a joy to a lot of people in the years to come.
I don't know how long we'll be here. I don't necessarily think that to make your city's welfare your own is to say that means "forever" - but I do think it probably means that for however long, it should count for something.
I told some of our friends, family, and LTP partners that we closed on the place yesterday. Our friend Josh responded this morning with a congratulatory message, and a video "present" he recorded in honor of our purchase. I couldn't stop laughing, so I figured I'd share it with you, too, without his permission: