Everything was changing.
On the approach into Tucson, she was startled by the increasing ruggedness of the landscape below. She had always thought of mountains in terms of the rolling Appalachians or the Rockies or even the Alps. They had honeymooned in the French Alps, studying those 50,000-year-old cave paintings at Lascaux and speculating on the culture of the people who had left them there. Because the Alps were so spectacular, with snow-covered peaks and dizzying heights, they had defined the romantic notion of mountains in her imagination. These mountains, though, bore little resemblance to the Alps.
The city below, with its pattern of streets and highways, this city that would be her new home, did not distract her from the compelling view of the mountains as they slipped by the window. Deep canyons cut into the rock slopes. She was surprised by the amount of vegetation that covered their southern flanks; it was green, but scattered broadly, accentuating the grays and browns of the rocks and mountain slopes.
Even though she had seen pictures of the American Southwest, these mountains caught her off guard. There was a strange familiarity. A powerful surge of nostalgia overwhelmed her. It was as if she had seen these mountains before, as if she had been here before.
The plane banked, and Anna saw another, smaller mountain range with scattered, rough peaks thrusting upward from narrow valleys. When the plane banked for its final approach, the mountains dropped from sight. Anna found herself looking into a cloudless blue sky, more brilliant than any she had ever seen.
She had been holding her breath, but not because she was nervous about the landing. As the plane leveled and the city below drew closer, she breathed out slowly and allowed herself to watch the ground rising up to welcome her.
Home. The word had come unbidden and newly formed in her mind, bringing with it an emotional connection she had never experienced. Home. She remembered something she had read in school—was it Robert Frost? Home is where, when you go there, they have to take you in. At fifteen years old, the thought had consumed her with adolescent angst. To have to go home and for them to have to take you in would be unthinkable. Once she was able to leave, going back was never an option. Just like Howard. Her brother left the day after he graduated from high school and he never came back, not even for their parents’ funerals. For a long time she had been angry with him for leaving her alone with them and then expecting her to take care of their end-of-life details. But eventually she understood. She shared his pain.
Later, when she married Foster, she hoped they might build a life she would be glad to come home to. Sadly, that hadn’t happened. With Foster, home became a prison; home was where she had to be twenty-four-seven. There when Foster left for the university and there when he came home.
But now she was free of him. She would never have to deal with him again.
At least that’s what she told herself.
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