The foothills above my boyhood home offer expansive views of the valley of my hometown and its adjacent fields. From this foothill vantage the patterns of the fields and city blocks sort of resemble the state of New York. My home lies near the southeast corner of this imagined state, thus somewhere along the Upper West Side of Manhattan, perhaps. Only I could not be farther from New York—both geographically and culturally. For if I turn 180 degrees from this vantage of fields and town then my eyes behold the pink-hued amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon.
Recently I walked into these foothills where countless hours were whiled away during my youth. Years elapse without visiting these places. Yet—when I do—not a shred of intimacy is lost. Each detail is hard-wired into my skull: stones encircling a large pinion demarcating our hut of yore—our secret club, rusted tin cans within a smaller stone circle where we heated our pork and beans, a nearby boulder where once I collected enough snow from its north shadow to heat a pot of Mormon tea, a juniper snag where I found a bobcat caught in a trap, a game trail in a familiar place—an ingress and egress of a steep gully, an old horseshoe resting on a sandstone slab.
When I climb up here and find these relics—these waypoints of the brain—and drink in the view of where I live, I gain perspective. I consider the successes, failures, adventures, and misadventures of my adult life and realize I’m game for more. I reflect on the five generations of my family who lived in this valley and realize I might want to add my own generation. I gain perspective, I take a few deep breaths, and descend the hill into the Upper West Side.