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Westward Ho: Day Three

Is it really only day three? We’ll see if I’m still saying that on day twelve. After a morning poolside, a little jaunt west on Central Avenue (also known as Route 66) took us into the Nob Hill district where there are lots of cool shops and restaurants. Not to mention all of the bygone-era signage all along

the main vein. Again, I am guilty of photographing while driving. I’ve gotten really good at it. We had lunch with Uncle John and Aunt Sharon on the patio of a little Italian place, which, I must admit, felt like blasphemy seeing as how we are now in Green Chile Territory.

Uncle John was reminiscing about the trips they used to take as a family when

he was young. Some of those trips brought them down this very road. He talked about how grandpa would buy watermelons for a dime each, they’d crack them open and eat only the deep red, honey-sweet, exact center of the melons and leave the rest. Grandma would bring along sandwich makings and fix lunch for the family at rest areas along the way, and when it was time to stop for the night, there were the mom-and-pop motor courts. They say that grandpa never failed to make the acquaintance of the proprietor and check out the room before giving his family the ‘all-clear.’ Oh dear, I’ve gotten off on a little tangent.

So I’m in quite the different surroundings this evening than last. The Albuquerque Drury Inn and Suites (that sounds too much like ‘dreary’ to me) is not exactly the same as the Albuquerque KOA. But you know what they have here? Free beverages every evening! You get a little card when you check in and after they check off three for a given day, you’re cut off. Isn’t that neat? Of course we wouldn’t want to become what my Uncle John would call “under the alcofluence of incohol.” Gin and tonics, margaritas, white and red wine were flowing freely tonight as we were all lounging in the lobby, munching on popcorn (they have one of those little movie theatre machines that pops it fresh) and waiting for all of the family members to arrive. We looked such the motley crew, and then when we all came together, eating the free food (hot dogs, nachos, baked potatoes, pickled jalapenos, the last of which I ate my fill) and drinking the free libations, our laughter all started to mingle and strike me as so similar (we are family after all) and as I looked around and watched faces and gestures, it all hit home that we are, most undeniably, from the same blood line. Norbergs. There were seven born to Oskar and Emily Norberg. Here they are, in no certain order (because I’m doing well to even remember their names in the first place): Philip, Iola, Metta, Eunice, Melvin, Ralph…oh gosh….there’s one I’m forgetting. Next time I write, I’ll have it…the missing sibling.

The next few days are going to be so interesting. I am eager to hear the cousins compare notes and share stories that maybe I’ve never heard before. We will pay a visit to Aunt Eunice down south in Los Lunas. She’s the only surviving Norberg of her generation. She is over 100, but I can’t recall how far past she is — I suppose I stopped counting after that. Her memory has mostly left her, but I’ll be really interested in seeing whether her long-term memory is as good as it was last time I saw her, which was about four years ago. She couldn’t remember where she was living at the time but she could remember, with unbelievable color and detail, the train she took when she was a young woman studying to be a nurse, apartments where she had lived in San Diego, friends she had known, and so many accompanying tales.

Tomorrow doesn’t really hold anything specific. This is the most free-form family reunion I’ve ever had to pleasure of attending. I’m guessing we’ll all gather for breakfast and let the games begin, although there’s no order of events or master of ceremonies. I’m sure the stories will begin to flow quickly and probably won’t stop until dinnertime or after, knowing our family. On a personal note, I get a little nervous, shy and anxious in these situations. New people, even though they are my family, just take some getting used to. I’ll get there, it will just probably be on the last day of our time together. This must stem from the same feelings that made me hide half of my face behind mom’s or dad’s leg when I was little and glower at family and friends alike. I’m just a weird bird.


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