When I first came down to New Mexico, I had no idea what it was going to be like. I knew nothing about the state, besides that it is way too hot most of the year. I didn’t know what my job was going to be like. I didn’t know what my coworkers would be like. I didn’t know how I would be treated with being an outsider. I didn’t know if I would make friends or have a group of people that would always have my back.

I had that group in Las Vegas, New Mexico. I had a few good friends that always kept me laughing. There were a few coaches and athletic directors who always kept me in the loop and sent me stats right after games.

My coworkers became some of my closest friends. I had a spot on the floor in everyone’s office that I would do work from or we would just talk about random stuff. They also became my support system outside of work. We all became such good friends and leaned on each other when things happened.

When I came to Socorro, I wasn’t sure what type of support system I would have. Besides my coworkers, I’ve felt pretty alone at times.

It’s incredibly difficult coming to a new community during a global pandemic. There are no events going on which means there are not many opportunities to make friends or to get to know people in the community. The people who I have gotten to know are the various sources I have used since I got to Socorro in November. It’s always interesting interviewing people and hearing their story.

I still have part of my support group from Vegas. I talk to Phil once in a while, but it’s a lot of teasing each other about hockey. He’s a St. Louis Blues fan and I’m a Colorado Avalanche fan and those two teams are huge rivals.

Besides them, I have my New Mexico United group in Albuquerque that I’m incredibly thankful for.

Over the past two seasons with them, I have been put into a dunk tank, made to laugh until I almost cried, yelled at games until I could hardly talk, teased a few of them about their choice of sport teams they support and so much more. I only see them a handful of times a year, but it’s all laughs whenever we are all together.

I’m hoping now that since I’m only an hour from Albuquerque that I will see them more this summer and there will be more inside jokes between all of us. I saw a few of them on Sunday and it was just what I needed — hugs and laughs. After I saw them, I realized just how lucky I am.

I came to New Mexico in October 2018 knowing absolutely no one and I was still decently shy. A lot of people who I have met have helped me break out of my shell. Over the past couple of years, I have become a lot more outgoing and have created so many memories.

I have gained a community in New Mexico that I find myself missing when I’m not around them.

When I go home, I’m always telling my family about the craziness that happens within my various friend groups. Even though I love being home, I find myself wanting to get back to New Mexico to hang out and see my friends again.

I’m so lucky to call all these people my friends and to have them to lean on when I need support or advice.