“What brings you all the way out here?”
Since relocating to Wyoming from New Jersey in June of this year, I have been asked this question more times than I can count, and for good reason. NJ conjures up images of bright lights, big cities and bigger populations. Interestingly, most people who ask me why we moved here tend to assume that we long for what we left behind.
For example, several people have commented that we must miss all the conveniences of the East Coast. While it’s true that you do have every convenience imaginable at your fingertips, what you are hard pressed to find is a helping hand. Yet when we moved into town with a seriously packed truck, it was the kids at my brother-in-law’s restaurant who showed up early morning to help us unload.
Neighborhood moms stopped me on the street and in the store to introduce themselves and invite our children over to play. And the community’s citizens who have lived here so long they share the same name as the town’s streets welcomed us with a smile and “glad you’re here!” So much for not fitting in.
Others have commented that we must miss all the programming available for kids. Yes, there are tons of places to go, but you do so only after you lock up your house, secure your car and protect your kids by reminding them for the 14th time that week not to let go of your hand, talk to strangers or go to the bathroom alone. Here, there are children playing (playing!) outside without hovering parents, high-priced plastic “enrichment” toys, or head-to-toe protective gear. My sons have discovered that three sticks, two shovels and one hole can be extremely entertaining. Watching them play together outside with Devils Tower as the backdrop is overwhelmingly beautiful.
While we appreciated that we were moving, we never expected to be so moved. The hospitality and warmth of the West, coupled with its breathtaking splendor, has always attracted us. When we found ourselves returning from a WY summer vacation wishing we were “there” instead of “here,” we knew it as time to go. In a testament to what the “West” really means, finally moving here didn’t actually feel like relocating…it felt like coming home.
We are grateful, proud and humble to have gone Forever West.
Contributed by Helen Coronato, The Accidental Cowgirl. Helen is a professional writer living in Hulett, Wyoming. When not trying to remember to ask for a sack instead of a "bag" when buying pop (not "soda!"), she and her family are out exploring the Black Hills and busy making the West, home. For more information, visit www.HelenCoronato.com