With each year that passes, I get more desperate to take Jon to Wyoming. I want to get in the car and drive, drive across the country that I remember from when I was six, my mom at the wheel, my sister pinching half-moon marks into my thighs in the backseat of the purple Impala. Mountains weren’t supposed to look like that! That’s not the way I drew them. What heartbreaking disappointment.

I want to take Jon to the tumbleweeds, to the sagebrush. He knows this landscape too, the harshness of it. It’s the landscape of his first marriage, the years in California, where it fell apart. And yet, he still loves the West, still exclaims over its beauty. I learned this secret last summer in Los Angeles, as he swooned over one of the ugliest stretches of beaches we’ve ever visited. The beach right there in L.A., an arid, heavily built, way overcrowded and smoggy coast all snugged up to the congested highway. It didn’t seem beautiful to me in comparison to the turquois horseshoe beaches of Culebra, or the deserted white sugar oases of Tulum, or the entirely barren white and wild grass beaches of Michigan, or even the lovely, if popular, beaches of Florida’s Ft. Meyers, Sanibel, and Captiva.

This ability to see beauty, to continue to see beauty, to grip beauty, in spite of its flaws, is most certainly Jon’s most potent human gift.

I want to bring him to Wyoming, my Wyoming. The ugly place, the place I haven’t returned to in all these years.  I wonder if he can find the beauty there? In the unimpressive foothills of Casper Mountain, in the endless winds, in the stinging dust and tumbleweeds and the piercing and irredeemable barbed wire.