After I took the rest of my family to the Albuquerque airport for a quick trip back to Dallas, I stayed in New Mexico to take a more leisurely journey home.
I stopped first in Roswell to visit Barbara, who has been a good friend since high school. We passed up the local McDonald’s, which is shaped like a spaceship, and ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We used to eat enchiladas there frequently when I came to Roswell to visit my mother.
When I left the next morning, Barbara presented me with a six-pack of Roswell Alien Amber Ale. The brewing company had decorated each bottle with an illustration of a spaceship and a green alien.
My next stop was in Jal, in the southeastern corner of New Mexico, just seven miles from the Texas border, to visit Jacque. We were best friends from third to sixth grades when we both lived at an El Past Natural Gas pumping station near Salt Flat, Texas.
Whenever we’re together, we always remember the time we hiked up Beacon Hill and ate our lunch. On the way down, I fell and ended up going to the emergency room for four stitches. Jacque and her parents climbed back up the hill to rescue my glasses, which I had left behind.
My last stop was in Big Spring, Texas, to visit my Aunt Nell, my father’s youngest sister. She told me about the year when she was five and my father was 12. After my grandfather died, she waited in the shade while her mother and brother hoed the cotton fields. Her mother didn’t think she was big enough to help until she turned eight.
Most people planning summer vacations won’t consider visiting Big Spring, Jal or Roswell, but I am happy that I did. My stops reminded me of the pleasure and the importance of renewing contacts with family and friends.