Tag Archives: searching for home



  1. Important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. “Dim,” “Deep,” or “Mysterious”
  2. Awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.

In 1996, Jon Krakauer, the author of Into Thin Air, published an amazing, thoughtful book entitled Into the Wild.  This book tells the true story of Christopher Johnson McCandless who, after graduating from college, spurned his former affluent life and the bright, comfortable future ahead of him.  Motivated by books he read by Jack London and John Muir, McCandless dedicated himself to a personal vision quest that began in the western and southwestern regions of America.  Changing his name to Alexander Supertramp, McCandless gave his savings of  $25,000 to charity, abandoned all his possessions, left his car in the Mojave Desert, and burned all of his cash to ensure that nothing would hold him back from his journey.  Looking for his own personal paradise on this earth, McCandless even threw away all of his maps and traveled only by his intuition.  In April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked into Alaska and walked into the vast cold wilderness north of Mount McKinley.  For a while, McCandless found shelter in an abandoned old school bus.  Four months later, however, his body was found by a moose hunter.

No one knows what ultimately motivated McCandless’s careless journey.  Questions still remain about a young man’s need to walk away from a rich and promising future to live homeless and starving  in the barren wildness of Alaska.  Some people claim that McCandless had a death wish and a need for self-destruction.    Others just dismiss McCandless’s actions as foolish and innocently reckless.

Well, I guess I am foolish and reckless too….

I don’t claim to know what was in McCandless’s head or why he choose his particular lifestyle, but there is a core element inside of me that feels so connected to his story.  In response to Krakauer’s consistent questions in the book about McCandless’s journey, I think I understand.

There are so many of us on this earth who don’t always feel that we belong in a world that overwhelms us with violent, materialistic, opportunistic situations.  Some of us who struggle to cope, do not medicate ourselves from the stress with alcohol, food, cigarettes, sex, gambling, or prescription drugs, but we do experience a deep and compelling lust all the same.  Wanderlust and the need to move, to travel, to create a universe of our own existence is a hunger that is rarely satisfied.

Restless, never able to settle down, I constantly look for opportunities to escape my existence.  I have no intention of doing this through self-harm.  I just have a relentless need to be lost.  When I travel, I rarely call or text anyone.  I love driving alone down deserted highways  without a single person knowing where I am in that exact moment.  I enjoy the solitude, the drifting away from my reality.  This has been my lifestyle for the last thirty years.

In July, 2016, I finally had the opportunity to realize a lifelong dream.  I spent time this summer exploring Alaska.  This was an amazing turning point for me.  I had made a vow to myself that I would drive through every state in America.  Alaska was the last state I needed to visit in order to satisfy this goal.  However, I refused to celebrate this accomplishment.  I didn’t post notices about it on Facebook.  I didn’t write blogs about my experience.  I just didn’t feel the need.

While I was in Alaska, I felt inspired to go completely off the grid.  I wanted desperately to be lost.  I wanted to cut off all communication to my former life.  I didn’t call or text anyone.  I only posted a few pictures on Facebook when I felt overwhelmed by the incredible scenery of glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, and animals.  But I only posted about 20 of the 350 photos I took.  I haven’t posted any more pictures or information about Alaska since I returned to Kansas.  There is a deep part of me that just needs to keep it quiet and hidden.  To experience so much of God’s amazing wilderness was so profound and awe-inspiring there was no way of putting it into words.  Even the beautiful pictures I have seem bleak when compared to the Alaskan landscape itself.  To this day, two months later, I have no desire to tell people about all of the amazing things that happened to me in Alaska.


I think constantly of running away again to the “last frontier.”  I want to hide in her vast beauty and get lost in her majestic environment.  I want to run with her wilderness and dissolve into her endless splendor.

My life’s purpose was  redefined in Alaska.  I came into contact with who God intended me to be.  I was never meant to have the things of an ordinary life.  I was not meant to have a great job, or a wonderful marriage, or an incredible home.  My only life’s purpose is to grow closer to God.  To know him by his world, by the beauty that surrounds me.  I don’t have to be anything…in Alaska, I can just be…

I don’t care about success, or a home, or money.  Just knowing in my heart and soul that I can move and explore and witness God’s glory is enough for me in this lifetime.

I don’t know Christopher McCandless’s motivation for his journey.

I didn’t travel from this life as far as Christopher did.

But there are times I really wish I had followed him.




Finding Meaning in Las Vegas


Even though I’ve enjoyed traveling around the world, I have been thinking lately that it is time for me to settle down. I need to get married, have a family, own a home and, perhaps, a dog. I’ve never been married and, honestly, I don’t have a lot of faith that it’s a possibility for me. I’m not good at flirting. I am awkward and shy. I’ve always been an outsider. I don’t do well with social games. I always tend to lose.

But last weekend, I was determined to change all of that. I was taking a few days off to go to Las Vegas. I just knew that this was going to be a great weekend for me. I had fantasies that I was going to meet someone very special. I tend to attract more people when I go out of town than when I’m at home. That’s easy to understand though. When I’m in my home city, I run around in sweats, with no make-up and my hair is unkempt. It’s different when I go out of town. I tend to make an effort to make myself more attractive.

So last Saturday, while I was in Vegas, I woke up early and took my time fixing my hair and make-up. I put on a long skirt that makes me look taller. My 5’5” frame looked slimmed and stretched to at least 5’7. I felt great and attractive as I walked down the Vegas strip. I’ll admit I did a few tosses of my long curled copper red hair as I smiled beguilingly at the people walking around me. I even caught myself glancing every now and then at my reflection in the windows of the shops and restaurants as I passed by. I laughed and took pictures and just felt happy and attractive… until I reached one of the overhead pedestrian walkways that crossed over South Las Vegas Boulevard.

I decided not to take the escalator or elevator. I felt strong and healthy so I went bounding up the twelve concrete steps. I was near the top of the stairs when suddenly the front tip of the sandal on my right foot caught on the edge of the top step and I felt myself pitching forward.

I put out my hands but wasn’t able to stop myself. I fell forward onto my face but that wasn’t the end of this escapade. By the time it registered in my brain that I was always falling, I was already rolling down the steps. Within seconds, I found myself sprawled in a tangle of limbs and long full skirt on the corner of Aria and South Las Vegas Boulevard. I laid there for a moment burning with embarrassment in front of all of the people. Yet, I felt strangely alone. No one helped me up. No one asked me if I was okay. Then I opened my eyes to find a group of men standing on the corner pointing at me and laughing hysterically.

I looked down at the palms of my hands that were scrapped raw. My left foot felt twisted and bruised. My biggest concern though was my camera. The little bottom door of the camera laid open and the batteries were falling out. Amid the sounds of loud laughter and chattering voices, I pulled myself up from the ground and snapped my camera back together. Then, with as much dignity as I could muster, I began to walk back up the steps, moving slowly but with my head held high. I reached the top and continued my journey down the strip still feeling my body tingling with embarrassment. I should have known better. I shouldn’t have been strutting. I shouldn’t have been feeling so proud and pleased with myself. I should have known I was going to crash for being so…

“Hey, hey, Red,” I suddenly heard a voice call. “Hey, Red!” I looked away from my thoughts now and noticed a homeless man standing directly in front of me. He was wearing torn denim shorts and a stained brown plaid button door shirt that was hanging open to display his thin bony chest. His long hair was clumped together with dirt and his long goatee was braided to a point at his chin. “Oh, God,” I groaned inwardly as my body still ached from the fall, “what now?”
“This is for you, Red,” the man said as he suddenly turned and jumped onto a short concrete pillar. He sat on the pillar as the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel suddenly burst into action. Large streams of water suddenly sprayed up and danced in time to the music from Phantom of the Opera.

The homeless man didn’t miss a single movement or beat as he waved his hands around in time to the music. I was suddenly captivated by this man, drawn helplessly into his fantasy. As I watched his movements, I truly believed he was conducting a massive water orchestra. Every few seconds, the man turned around and smiled at me as I stood on the sidewalk. At the end of the performance, he jumped down off the pillar and bowed elegantly to me before taking his place again on the sidewalk with the rest of the people who were begging for handouts. I smiled then as I walked down the strip to the Mirage Hotel.

Once inside the Secret Garden, I stood before the cage of the white tigers. Two of the tigers were perched up on a low tree branch as they lazily passed away the sunny afternoon. One of the tigers was staring directly at me. I was so mesmerized by this creature, I couldn’t turn away. I felt so connected to this amazing animal as we continued to make direct contact. The whole universe existed within his round dark eyes. “It’s the hair,” I suddenly heard a voice say. I turned around to look at the trainer who was standing next to me. The young man smiled at me and said, “The tiger is fascinated with your red hair.” I smiled then and felt a light blush tinge my cheeks as I slowly pulled myself away from the front of the cage.

I walked over to the dolphin habitat then. While most people were crowded around the large tank where several trainers were working with three dolphins, I stood next to the second smaller tank, playing with two young dolphins. I watched in awe as the animals jumped out of the water and spun in the air. Several times, the dolphins pushed their gray shiny bodies up on the dock directly in front of me. “See,” a trainer whispered from behind me, “they like you. They’re showing off for you.”

I was actually deeply happy then. I smiled with my heart because now I truly understood the purpose of this day. Maybe I was never meant to get married and settle down. Maybe I was never meant to have a husband and family. Maybe the dog and the house were out of my reach. My life consists instead of jumping dolphins, mesmerizing white tigers, and a homeless man who conducts water symphonies for me. My life is pure and joyful. I am truly blessed.

The Randomness of My Life

I was reading back over my blogs the other day and released that there’s not really a theme. Was I supposed to have one? I noticed that most bloggers write about a certain thing–fashion, food, travel. But I can’t seem to focus. I can’t seem to choose one thing. I realized then that my blogs are just as random and unorganized as my life.

It made me think of a writing assignment I was giving a few years ago. What was the best year of my life in a 5-year span? I still don’t know how to answer that. Nothing actually stands out in my mind. I have never climbed Mount Everest, sailed around the world, or performed a heroic feat that saved another person’s life. Maybe I didn’t know what to write because I couldn’t think of a specific moment that turned my life around. I have never married. I don’t have children. I have never won the lottery. My life instead has been very different. It has been a day-to-day process. It has been a continuous unfolding of insight and understanding. I see my life as being an endless progression of trial and error.

Maybe I am trying too hard. Maybe I am overthinking the question. Maybe I should think about the happy moments of my life. Maybe I should think of the times that have made me feel alive and joyful to be in this world. I think of my miraculous moments. I have seen angels and other visions. I have helped people heal through massage and energy work. I have traveled extensively around the world. I have gone to several different schools and graduated with honors. I have taught in several different schools and helped others graduate with honors. I have waded in the oceans. I have gazed at mountains shining purple in the sunlight. I have received hugs from family and friends. I have experienced painful breakups of relationships. I have watched friends and family suffer and pass through my life no matter how hard I tried to hold onto them. I have read great books that showed me a different way of life. I have seen great movies that have inspired emotions deep within me. I have listened to amazing music that moves my soul in the same way it moves my feet. I have screamed for victory at sporting events. I have competed in the race of life for an attainable victory. I have tried to be kind, though I know I don’t always succeed when I am tired or stressed. I have taken beautiful photographs and have become frustrated when others don’t see the amazing things that I do. I have been strong at times and shown amazing courageous. I have been shy at other moments and cowered away from perceived threats. I have held babies. I have watered plants. I have cared for pets. I have treasured objects that would have no value to anyone else. I have lived life to the very brink of its existence. I have slept and being lazy on warm summer days. I have eaten great food and then worried about my weight. I have exercised and loved my body. I have hated my body and every one of its flaws has left me depressed and feeling unlovable. I have moments when I have doubted God’s existence. There were days when I have doubted my own existence. There are times when I have been a great believer just because I saw a sunrise or a drop of rain. I have great faith that won’t diminish even on days of sadness. I have great sadness that can sometimes diminish my faith. I have had a life filled with many years of great joy and tremendous sadness. I have had many years that I want to live again and others I would wish to erase from my memory.

So to answer what is the best year of my life, what can I say? Maybe I haven’t lived enough. Maybe I have lived too much. I can’t concentrate on one idea. My life is swirling in front of my eyes as if I am about to pass over into a new existence. When I finally do pass over into a new existence, will I look back on the best year of my life? Will I know then when the best time of my life had been? No, I will only know that I had a life…


1992 was a year of first for me. First time I got a passport, first time traveling on my own, first time going overseas, first time I was ever on an airplane. I was traveling from Kansas to London, England, where I would spend a year studying theater and film, my real passion at the time. My actual physical journey from start to finish was about twenty-three hours.

I wasn’t very happy at the beginning of the journey. My heart and soul were raging like the thunderstorm that crashed all us from the time my family left the house and arrived at the airport about an hour later. I did not think of the stormy weather as a bad omen. Instead, it was a prophecy of all the unusual adventures ahead of me. I was off on my very first expedition and couldn’t settle down. I remember trying to sit still with my family by the gate waiting for my flight, but I couldn’t stay motionless. I felt right at that moment that I just wanted to go back home, back to the safety of my family and all that was familiar. Even though this adventure was the fulfillment of a dream for me, I now felt like running back to the safety of my old common existence—days that were filled with going to school full time at the University of Kansas, working at the local movie theater, and modeling in the art department of the college. It was a recognizable, consistent life. I knew where I was supposed to be every moment and what was expected of me. Is this what stops people from being so adventurous? A need for the familiar? A need to feel safe? A need for a regular routine of life, not letting anything different interfere?

Another first…for the first time in my life now, I found myself craving those moments, those usual routines. My daily routine served as an anchor to a life and mind that were always drifting, always searching. What exactly was it that has kept me moving? Why is it that I had grown up so shy and quiet and yet I run from the regular routine, the “normal” life?

For awhile, I sat in the airport by the gate silently praying. Oh, God, what have I done? I thought of Mom wanting to run away from her wedding. She wanted to get away; I felt the need to return. But it was too late for me now to think about that. Too late to wonder about those impulses that push me to the next stage of my life. My plane would be taking off in less than an hour. I still couldn’t sit calmly. I again paced relentlessly back and forth, anxious to be on my way or turn back home. Either one, I just wanted to get going.

Mom appeared calm and relaxed though her legs swung and her fingernails tapped nervously on the armrest of the chair where she was sitting. She was trying not to relay the fact that she was on the verge of changing her mind about the situation, too. But before she could finally get up the nerve to tell me to come back home, my plane was beginning to board all of the passengers heading off for their own private adventures. I hugged my family good-bye quickly. I thought it would be best to get on the plane fast before I had time to reconsider what I was doing. I started on my way to the plane, head held high with fake pride and confidence. Yes, my body was getting on the plane bound for England. But my heart and soul were not really sure where I was going.

Though I admit I struggled with homesickness the first few weeks, I loved Hull, England, from the moment I arrived. I met many great people and loved the experience of exploring some place new and different.

My Mother’s Heart

One day, when I was about five years old, Mom treated all of her kids to ice cream cones at Baskan Robbins. I remember feeling overjoyed with the simple treat and happily licked at the sliding, melting vanilla ice cream as we walked down the sidewalk in front of various shops at the strip mall. I took one big lick…and knocked the ice cream right out of the cone and onto the dirty, cracked sidewalk. The very moment the ice cream slurped onto the ground, I burst into a flood of tears. Mom just scooped up the ice cream with her bare hands and stuck it right back on my cone. I was so happy again as I continued skipping on down the sidewalk, licking joyfully at the dirt encrusted ice cream.

Did Mom still expect me to burst into tears over melting ice cream? Did I still expect Mom to make everything better again?

I first knew that Mom was beginning to let me go when I traveled to England to go to school. I actually thought Mom would be upset when I told her I was planning to study abroad. I thought she would be worried when I told her in May of 1992 that I was planning to go to Hull, England in the fall of 1993. I rehearsed for hours how I would break the news to her.

Instead of being upset, though, Mom had answered, “Why are you waiting a year? If you are going to go, go now. What are you waiting for?” I stared at her for a moment, so surprised I couldn’t respond. “Well, it’s not too late this year, right? What are you waiting for?”

I stared into her eyes…and saw the gleam there and I knew. She would have loved to have gone. She would have loved to have this opportunity that I was putting off for another year. Maybe she was afraid that my opportunities would slide away from me as they had from her if I didn’t jump on them now.

I was shocked, but didn’t wait for Mom to think it over. I needed to move now before she realized exactly what she had just encouraged me to do. I had to run with this before she realized the complexities of the situation and tried to talk me out of it. I signed and finalized all of my paperwork with the university over the next week and prepared for the excursion to England that would take place in September, 1992. There was so much preparation to be done from filing all of the paperwork, to packing my luggage and getting my passport completed.

I was so happy that my mother supported my travels. I understand why she did it. I knew that I carried her heart and spirit with me. I knew that my mother hoped that I experienced all of the things she never had the opportunity to do in her life. To this day, I know that everywhere I go, my mother’s heart is the one thing I always carry with me.

My International Voice

My childhood fears have ebbed over the years, though every now and then my early experiences visit me in strange ways. Whenever I talk, it’s not unusual for people to ask me where I’m from. People usually claim I have an accent. It’s actually not an accent, but a scar left over from my speech impediment. I have been placed all over the world though. Constant questions about my heritage always come racing at me from strangers. People are always asking me if I’m from Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland…

One day, I was working in a department store in Kansas and this older man and woman approached me. After answering their questions, the man repeated my answers back to me. I nodded, thinking he was doing nothing more than confirming what I had said. But as they turned to walk away, the man grabbed the woman’s arm and whispered loud enough for me to hear, “If these foreigners want to stay in this country, they better learn to speak the language!” At the time, I was shocked by his words. Now, I find it funny. I’m proud of my international voice. Though I am still naturally shy and socially awkward, darkness and loneliness no longer consume me. I no longer need anyone to take care of me, hold my hand, fight my battles for me, or watch over me while I sleep.

One evening, I stood on the balcony of my apartment in California staring out at the San Jacinto mountains as the sun set behind them turning the peaks to a dark gentle brown. I knew at that time that I didn’t want this existence to end. Even with all of the struggles I have known, I don’t want to leave this life. Why is it that I have lived without a home before, not knowing where I was going or how I was going to survive…how was it that I lived off just a bowl of rice every day for several months and still believe, within myself, that I have always had the best of everything? I continue to behave like a young girl, dreaming of castles and princes, even though life has tried many times to convince me there are no such things for me. Sometimes I believe I am incurably optimistic. My greatest accomplishment in life is knowing how to always remain in a state of gratitude. I have always known how to count my blessings.

My experiences have been so different from the many people I have known. My experiences continually pull me from this world and yet hold me to this life. I travel alone and free not knowing where it will lead me. I live traveling aimlessly on the roads that bring me closer to God than any religious following ever could. I say my prayers when I am traveling. When I get scared of being lost and alone, I pray and feel a presence in the empty seat beside me in the car, guiding my path. I am surprised that there are people in my life who still see this as a defect in me, but it’s okay. I know what’s real.

Where I am

I know I have chosen a lonely life for myself. Though I know I have meet the most amazing people from all over the world, it hasn’t been easy to maintain long standing relationships when I have moved around so much. A friend teased me one time by saying, “You move more than someone on the run from the law.” I don’t know if she ever realized how exactly right she was. I have my own separate page in her address book. She claims that she saves extra room for me because she has to constantly write in updates to my information.

I just moved again a few months ago. It’s funny. I never realize how much junk I have until I have to move it. But every time I move, pieces of myself get scattered all over the place. I decided I didn’t want to move all of the junk again, so I did what I normally do every time I move. I called my friend, Olga, and asked if there was anything of mine she could use. She answered, “Oh, I could really use the toaster oven and blender. That would be so great. But I can’t get over right now to pick them up because of the kids.”
Oh, well, okay, no problem. I loaded everything into my truck and drove it to her apartment. Suddenly, over the next few days, I started getting calls from several other people I knew. “Hey, I hear you’re moving and giving some things away. Can I have your…”

Next thing I know I’m loading up my truck and driving my microwave oven over to Rayna’s place, my vacuum cleaner to Teri’s, my mixer, dishes, and various appliances over to Jaynie’s…Wait a minute! I suddenly realized I was driving all of my things all over town! Why didn’t I just drive all of it to my new apartment?!

No, seriously, I am so fortunate to have the friends that I have and to have meet a lot of interesting and unique people from all over the world. But I always move on. I am always ready to pack up and go. I am bored staying in one place for too long. Roots do not grow under me. I don’t feel connected to any one place and yet I love everywhere I go. I’m just always looking for the next opportunity. I always seem to have my eyes focused on what is over the next horizon and sometimes I don’t realize the warmth of the sun that shines on me wherever I am. Sometimes I have to wonder why I’m going and what I am trying to accomplish. I don’t know if I will ever find the answer to these life riddles but that doesn’t stop me from searching for some solution somewhere.

But that’s alright because along the way I have made many amazing discoveries. As much as I feel I know people, and I know about this world, and I know about life, every new place I arrive surprises me with scenery, people, and opportunities I could never have even imagined.

New Adventures–Getting Lost

At that time my family embarked on road trips, there were no cell phones or GPS systems. We did not depend on technology to get us through. We were real pioneers, with nothing but maps and fellow adventurers traveling the highways. All we had to depend on were ourselves and the kindness of family, friends, neighbors, and travelling allies. That was the adventure. We lived dangerously…and we survived. We learned how to stand on our own two feet and find our direction. We may have found ourselves lost every now and then, but we always eventually made it back home.

I don’t think people want adventure any more. They just want to be at their destination fast and soon. Oh, what they have missed along the way is heartbreaking. Why not stop and view the world around us? Otherwise, what’s the point of going anywhere? Why ever leave home?

Mom and I continued to travel that way as we journeyed through America. Just a map and stopping when we got tired, never quite sure where we were going to end up. Wherever we stopped, that’s where we stopped. Talking about it now seems as foreign as the wild-west journeys by covered wagon. But people used to watch out for each other then and travelers could always rely on gas station attendants and friendly locals for free directions, bitter cups of coffee, and interesting conversations about little hometowns.

My brother, Ralph, always had the greatest advice. “Always get lost in a new town,” he suggested. “Whenever you’re lost, you have to force yourself to learn the city to get back. There’s no better way of learning about your surroundings.”

There was only one time in my life that I can ever remember ever getting horribly, desperately lost. I was five-years-old and thought of myself as a big girl. Everyday when I went to kindergarten, Grandma always dropped me off right at the front door. My classroom was just inside, first door on the left…however, over the last couple of weeks, I happened to notice that several of my classmates were coming into the classroom from the opposite direction. They were coming in through the backdoor, and for some reason, I thought that was really cool. So one day, I made up my mind that I did not want to go in to school though the “baby” front door and told my grandmother to drop me off at the back of the building. Grandma was very hesitant at first.

“Are you sure you know the way?” she must have asked me five times as she circled around to the back of the building. Of course…well, maybe…but what difference did it make…I was on the very first of many amazing journeys. Grandma stopped at the back of the building and…uh, oh, there were two doors about five feet apart.

“Are you sure you know which door to use?” Grandma started to worry again. “Let’s go back up front.”

But I couldn’t back down now. I quickly kissed her check, jumped out of the car, and without any hesitation, I walked to one of the doors. I just picked one. I swung it open, stepped inside…and was suddenly completely lost! I had no idea where I was! Did I turn around? No. Did I step back out and try the other door? No. I just started walking…and walking…and walking as if I knew where I was heading. But I had no idea where I was or where I was going. I just tried to pretend like I belonged (which seems to have become a running theme in my life!). I just ran up and down the hallways for about half an hour. The more I ran, the more confused I became. I started to panic and felt warm tears beginning to wind their way down my cheeks. The hallways were empty but I passed rooms full of people. I was just so very shy and didn’t know who to ask or what to say. So I kept walking as if I had somewhere to go…and I did…I just had no clue how to get there.

Suddenly, I turned a corner and out of nowhere there stood before me a young girl. She must have been about ten-years-old and she was holding the hand of a very small child. I don’t know who they were or where they came from? The young girl looked at me and said, “Are you looking for the kindergarten classes?” I couldn’t speak a word. I just shook my head. “Go that way,” she said pointing down the hallway behind her. “Just go to the end of the hallway.”

I took off at a run, even too shy and upset to say “thank you.” I ran down the hallway and there it was…my classroom. I stopped running now. I wiped my tears and then casually strolled into the room, hung up my coat and took my seat, shaking my head and acting as if I had meant to be fashionably late. The teacher, Mrs. Gilbertson, stared at me for just a moment but when I refused to say anything or show any kind of reaction, she simply went on with the class. The next day, Grandma dropped me off at the front door of the school and I never complained again. My big girl adventure was over.

Searching for Warmth

My grandmother always drove me to kindergarten, except for one particular day when Kansas had received a record feet of snow for that year. Grandma refused to drive in the heavy snow, so Mom dressed me up in bright red tights, a short little plaid dress, a small, thin coat, and mittens, packed up my little brother in a snowsuit, and walked me up to school. I literally did walk to school with the snow up around my hips. I have a vivid memory of my mom holding me by the hand and struggling to keep a solid grip on my two-year-old brother who wiggled and cried to be released into the clean white powder.

I was not so enthusiastic about the experience. I absolutely hated it. I remember trying to lift my small feet up above the level of the snow and then plunging down to my hips into the cold endless sea of flakes. The tears froze on my face as I tripped and stumbled. No matter how much I protested, Mom was adamant that I was going to go to school that day. She dragged, pushed, and pulled me through the cold until we finally reached the doors of Stony Point North. I don’t know how Mom survived that walk of four miles holding on to a squirming, screaming baby in one arm and gripping the hand of a whining, crying five year old with the other, but she got us to the school. She dropped me off, walked back home, and changed the baby, just in time to turn right around and walk back up to the school to get me at three-thirty when class was over. I have no memory of how I got back home, but I do know this: I have hated snow ever since. I cannot stand being cold and the first snowfall does not make me feel all seasonal and jolly inside. Cold slides under my skin and into my tissues like an old soul.

As soon as I had the opportunity to move out of state, I headed for a warmer climate. I thought it wasn’t supposed to snow in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Imagine my surprise when I woke up on my first full day in town to find that ten inches of snow had covered everything the night before. Thankfully, it all completely melted, soaking into the normally hot earth, by one o’clock that afternoon. Maybe that’s what I have been searching for through all of my journeys: a place to feel warm, an area where the snow always dissolves into sunny, warm, clear days.