Betty Schlueter

I'm tempted to start by saying I don't live here anymore but that would be an untruth. Physically I haven't lived here since I was 18 but in my heart this will always be home. Some of my earliest memories are lying in the clover listening to the heavy buzz of the bees and the wind in the birch trees. I can taste the sugary tip of the clover petals just by thinking of it.
I climbed trees and played with kittens. My job was to collect the eggs and sometimes feed the rabbits. When I was five we brought home a pair of matching black ponies.

From the time I was small I could feel that I was different from other people, an outsider, the kid in the corner that just wasn't the same. My own family had a story in which I was discovered on the doorstep, dropped off by whom no one could or would say. They never once backed down and no one ever took the time to pull me aside to say "You know we're pulling your leg, right?" It was a family joke that I wasn't in on.
I never felt out of place when I was outdoors though, running through the cattails or searching the long grass for the places where the deer had lain down for the night. There I was safely at home.

I was an outcast in school as welI for various reasons and as much as I loved the act of being schooled I despised the way I was treated by the other kids. I watched the classroom clock and hurried the bus along as fast as I could with my mind until I was home again to read my beloved books. I read voraciously and to my small town thinking everything and everyone was far more worldly and glamorous than I could ever hope to be.
I knew that I would need to leave this small place that I loved to move forward and create the safe life I was sure was out there for me. I met a sweet outsider boy who felt the same way and who was a perfect fit and together we canoed and swam and held each other close and counted the days until we were free to go off and be different together.

The boy and I grew up a little together and eventually found our way to the desert to make our home. It's big and open and dry and not at all like the green, lush place I love so well but it's our place. Until recently this place was at the edge of farmland which was what had originally drawn us to it. The farms and dairies are still visible here and there but for the most part it's now just mile after mile of suburban homes. Bicycles and automatic garage door openers and barking dogs and lemonade stands.

I have lived in this new place almost as long as the place that I call home. It's important to me because of the friends I've made and the kids we've created and the lives we lead but it has never captured my heart quite like the first place. The boy and I still wander and play and enjoy being different together and the new kids that live in our safe place with us are at home everywhere they go and not just when they are hidden in the grass and trees.