I was born in Pennsylvania, but I didn’t live there long. When I was 6 weeks old, my family packed up and moved to Texas. We didn’t go straight there, however, we went to Wyoming and who knows where else before stopping in Texas. I basically spent the second 6 weeks of my life in a car seat. My mom tells me that for weeks afterwards, I would not go to sleep unless I was in a car seat.
Anyway, we lived in south-eastern Texas for about 7 years. I remember enough about that time that I could tell you a quite a few stories from back then. Then we moved to Connecticut. Big change for my 7-year-old self. We moved in October as well, so I went from winters I could almost always still wear shorts almost straight into 3 feet of snow with temps and wind chill well below freezing a lot of the time. And people talked funny too. It was just plain weird.
But, the first house we lived in had a river flowing through the back yard. Well, it was small for a river, more of a brook, definitely larger than a stream, but it was called a river. The West River.
I have a lot of memories with that river, from wading and exploring, to fishing (catching lots of sunfish, but not one of the huge catfish I’d see sometimes), to seeing a great blue heron flying past me, to having it flood during hurricanes, and learning how to ice skate (badly) if it froze enough in the wintertime.
There are a lot of stories I could tell about that river, but for now, just remember the name. West River. That’s what is important for this story, I’ll be coming back to it.
Well, after living in that house for about 5 to 6 years, we moved again. We stayed in CT, we even stayed in the same town, but we did move away from the West River. But, the house we moved to was fairly close to a lake, not within sight, but within easy walking distance. Not a huge lake, but definitely bigger than a pond. West Lake.
Are you seeing the theme here yet?
I have a lot of memories at that lake as well. Going there during the day and in the middle of the night. Swimming, canoeing, fishing, exploring, star-gazing, watching a lunar eclipse with my telescope, seeing a UFO, all kinds of things. But again, it’s the name that’s important here.
I grew to love Connecticut, and all of New England. The coast, the forests, the hills, the mountains. (Yes, New England does have mountains. Just because they’re not as tall as other mountains doesn’t mean they’re not mountains. It just means they are older and wiser and don’t stick their necks out as much.) I will probably post many stories from my adventures in New England to go along with this one about hiking back down from the top of the tallest mountain in the great state of Maine.
But I never stopped missing Texas. I always wanted to go back west. And the fact that both places I lived in CT were connected to the west was not lost on my teenage mind. The West River, and West Lake. I wasn’t and I’m not superstitious or into mysticism, but part of me wondered if it was a sign.
Well, I grew up in CT, and fell in love in CT. The woman I loved (and a couple of friends of ours) went on a cross-country trip (a lot of stories there as well) and went about as far west as you can go while staying in the continental 48 states. We even ended up driving through the area in Texas where I used to live. I didn’t see anything that looked familiar, but of course, I couldn’t remember much detail about the local geography. I’m sure a lot of it had changed in the almost 15 years since I left, but I was in the general area at least.
Back in CT for a few more years, in which I got married. My wife (the same lovely lady I went on that cross-country trip with) and I did live in an apartment that was not connected to anything with “West” in the name, for less than a year. But then the two of us moved almost all the way across the country, 2000 miles to the west, to Utah. To West Valley City, Utah to be more specific. West Valley City. Even out here, the theme continues.
And here I am and here I’ve stayed for many years. In the west. Coincidence? Fate? Who knows…