The day I left the farm, my things packed in my sisters borrowed car, there was no one to wave to. I had a small studio apartment, rented when the time came for me to move, the only uncoupled one in a family that had recentered. It was fall, the violent colors of aging leaves waving me goodbye.

My place was on the second floor of an old century home, one that would have had so much wealth and influence back when it was pretty and unseparated. I lived in the back, up in the trees, behind everything that had already passed.

I spent my nights there looking out the big window into those trees and the sky above them. Watching the leaves fall, the ice come, and the soft thaw of new growing things.

That year is a dream to me, the glow of the town lighting up the storm heavy skies, the soggy walks back from the store, grey clouded canopies over solitary boot prints. The oven left open for heat as blanket fashioned doors kept in warmth.

I loved it there.

I was alone, but not lonely, the starkness of the surroundings honest and real. I turned at night, weaving myself into knitted filaments of the softest armor. I listened to rain on the tin eaves, taped music, and soulful grieving birds as the cold coming through the windows landed light on my feet.

My life was slow, surreal and so very mine.

When I went back that day in the spring of my almost 50th year, I stood on the sidewalk, and could see in my own eye every plane of that space, and smiled at the memory of bare branches and small solitary days. This was the beginning of the girl who looked forward. Who saw a small road that very well might be for her, who picked up the phone and heard her friend talk of plans to move out west, to a school owned by the Mormon church she had just joined in her desperation to find the belonging still fleeting and unknown. Did she want to go? This was the beginning of the girl who said yes.

It took strength to leave that year, to go to a new country, climate and altitude. It took strength to explain why I needed to go when I didn’t yet understand. And that day in May, returning back to the small quiet lab of green choices, I found the word strength in the sun warmed pavement, and I left.


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