“Can we move to a farm?” I asked my mother for probably the hundredth time, leaning forward to stick my little blonde head between the front seats. “And have horses?”
“We’ll see,” she responded.
We were on our way to look at a house. After having spent the last year in a sprawling apartment complex in the middle of Papillion, a small city attached to the south side of Omaha, the cornfields on either side of the two lane highway looked promising.
“Are we going to look at a farm?” I persisted. All my cousins lived on farms. They had horses. I desperately wanted to live on a farm and have horses. At that time, I didn’t make any connection between a farm as a place to live and a farm as a business.
“Sort of. It’s not in the city,” Mom said.
That was enough to make my six-year-old self more than a little excited. Even then, I liked going to see new places, exploring new buildings. The realtor lady wore fancy suites and had a talking car that told us to buckle our seat belts, like Kit, the car on Night Rider, me and my brother’s favorite television show. This was an adventure, something new.
The suburb we ended up in was just like every other suburb - split level houses painted dull beige on long, isolating blocks, with small trees planted in the yards. The house we saw was marginally better. The developer had managed to leave a grove of mature birches when they had built this house and the one right beside it. The trees would be tall enough to support a tire swing. A few of the lots on our block hadn’t been built on yet (meaning they‘d make good places for games of tag and baseball), but this house was already several years old. The previous had built a sand box in the back yard and painted one of the bedrooms pink, something I loved for exactly two days.
This was Westmont, a tiny subdivision on Highway 370 about ten miles west of Papillion, ten miles east of Gretna, ten miles north of Springfield, and ten miles south of Millard, the western suburb of Omaha. In other words, smack in the middle of nowhere. It had an elementary school, a gas station, and a bar above the gas station. That was all.
I didn’t get my farm or my horses, but I did get the tire swing. Dad threw a hammer tied to the end of a rope over a tall branch the day after we moved in, and that kept Brandon and I out of their hair for the rest of the week. We had moved three times in the last two years, ever since the business up in South Dakota had folded. I figured I’d try again for a farm and horses the next time around. I figured if I was persistent, I would get to be a cowgirl, like my mom.
The next ten years would be awfully disappointing.