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Continued from Swimming pools

The years have been long.
My exile in city canyons is ended.
And now I am back in Wyoming
where my heart has been.
The skies are so blue,
the stars so bright,
the sun so light
the air so pure.
I smell the sage on the prairie
the pines in the hills.

Mother’s mood improved along with the elevation. The state of Nebraska tipped upward the farther west we traveled and the air grew thinner, dryer, and cooler. I can only imagine the quickening of mom’s blood as we approached the border. Wyoming—the very sound of it conveys something wild. Although at this time, Joan was unaware that Wyoming was the origin of the wild seed that begot her life.

It was late when we pulled into Laramie. Mom stopped at a motel with a horseshoe sign and a small swimming pool at the north end of town. I think this is where we stayed for several days until our furniture arrived. I know we were there long enough for mom to make friends with the motel owners who had a daughter about my age.

The next day was Sunday. Mom knew the address of the house she’d purchased but did not yet have a key. She was excited and chattered with the motel owners. They knew the house and assured her it would be easy to find. Her eyes sparkled as she danced us out to the car so we could have a look at this first house she’d ever bought. For the past twenty years, she’d lived in apartments, her comings and goings monitored by doormen and nosey neighbors.

The motel people were right. Our house was a snap to find. Early on a Sunday morning, we passed one car on the way to our new house. We drove about 10 blocks from the motel on 3rd Street, turned left on Garfield, drove another six blocks and there we were!

Our “new” house was a seventy-year-old, two-story, the lower half of which was a dull pink stucco, the top was painted, white wood. It perched in a sizeable patch of grass on a corner lot, with a grade school cattycorner and a small neighborhood grocery across Garfield Street. Not only was the grade school a spit away from the house, but Joan’s high school was one block west. The location couldn’t have been better.

The first thing I noticed was the triangular window in the front door. It was too high for me to look through. Mom was first to peer through the window, then Joan. I was bouncing up and down, trying to grab a peek, too. Joan lifted me up so I could peer into the darkened hallway on the other side of the door. What I saw next excited me beyond belief. Stairs! With a fancy banister, painted in shiny red! Oh, I couldn’t wait to see more. We walked around the house, peering into windows where we could. How did we get through that long Sunday—able to look at, walk around, touch, kick, and lick this new home, but unable to go inside?