Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wide open spaces

One time I was accepted to a phd program. It was a pretty big deal for a girl who'd never ever ever seen graduate school in her future. My academic habits were not necessarily awesome. I didn't see myself as a doctoral candidate. At all.

But thanks to professors who believed in me (despite my academic disatrousness), I got accepted to a program in the south. The program wasn't top ten, but it wasn't terrible. It was somewhere in the middle, and after the 4 years—I'd have a phd after my name. I thought that's all that mattered.

Of course I would go! I was going to get a phd! Woohoo! But then, my older cousin told me I had to visit the campus. Since I had a friend who lived about an hour away—I thought, fine. I'll go.

I thought I was born for the South. I like cowboy boots. I like small towns. I love being in the middle of nowhere.

But, then—I went and I just couldn't do it. 
There were too many trees.
They were tall and skinny and I couldn't see the sky.
I felt like I was choking.

When another student, with a lot of enthusiasm, showed me the on-campus housing, I thought: You will die here.

It's not that I'm high maintenance. I can handle anything. Mostly. But, I can't handle not seeing the sky. And I can't handle being in a dark, green-colored room where I can't see the sky. And I can't handle not seeing wide, open spaces some where close to where I wake up.

I said, no.

I did something else.
Where I could live in place with a view of the sky.
Sometimes I think of moving back east. Living in Boston, or South Carolina. Or something. But, I wonder how I'll live without the gulping gaping distance of the west.

I want to fold it all up  (the tumble weeds, the miles and miles and miles of dirt, the joshua trees, the cholla, the ocotillo, the great salt lake, the gigantic mountains, the hills, the valleys, the farm fields, the irrigation canals, the deserted waterpark off of I-15, all the deserted houses, the entire coastal region of southern California, everything west of the Mississippi) and stick it to the back side of my ribs. Paste it there with glue so I can see it every time I breathe.


  1. that's exactly how I feel. I LOVE wide open spaces. It's the reason i panic when I think that I'm going to live here forever. The trees make me, ironically, feel like I can't breathe sometimes.

  2. I get it. "Wide Open Spaces" by Dixie Chicks almost makes me cry, whenever I hear it. How sappy is that? I live in the Garden of Eden. But sometimes...when I see the Wasatch front....

  3. I love the spacious West, too, but you've got to admit that all that lush green is mighty enticing and inspiring and simply VIBRANT! (My favorite color is green. I think I dream in green. Good thing I'm surrounded by palm trees out here.) :)

  4. I did that once. With BYU. Holy wow, did I just say that out loud? Thing is, BYU was lovely and seemed nice enough, but it wasn't right for me. Ever since, I joke that I didn't go there because I couldn't get into Helaman Halls (it's true--I was too slow to get into the nice housing), but honestly, going to college in my hometown (Logan) was the best possible decision for me for a myriad of reasons.

    Sometimes life and the Lord has a way of telling you what's right for you with things that seem superficial. I don't think they are... but then again, I'm not an expert or anything. Just a person.

    P.S. there are lots of gaping distances back east... just not in the big cities! North Carolina, for example, is particularly gorgeous. AND lots of places in New York state.

    P.S.S. can't remember if I've ever commented here before, but I've read your blog for a little while, and I LOVE your writing.

  5. I wish I could express myself as you do. Every time I read your blog… which is every new post, I wish that.
    I also love wide open spaces… even more so wide open spaces in Utah and Wyoming. I love SD but everytime I come home to SLC it feels perfect for me.
    Thanks for sharing my lovely friend.


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