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  • After a weekend of Gordon and Manderson delights—manicotti in the land of my father, night runs, endless episodes of Gossip Girl, games of Loaded Questions, a bike ride from the massacre site—we woke up to pancakes and the decision whether to drive to Rap-rap-rapid city to buy an elliptical or go on a beautiful Manderson Sunday hike. The weather, laziness and I! won out eventually, and past horse poop in Laura's front yard, past horses on the playground, through a fence and past a horse carcass—one skeleton hoof still propped up!—and up the Camelsback, past horses, horse poop, horses.

    Once Laura said, "I wish I had friends besides wild horses" to a comment about being jealous of Manderson's natural beauty and horse culture (we'd just gone for a ten-mile run, the first 6 behind a pack of wild horses). The grass is always greener. The question of the hike: if you could go back, and choose, where you would live, what you would teach, backwards 2.5 years in time, space and all this gained wisdom, where would it be? What would it be?

    Of course, two years ago, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to be somewhere on Pine Ridge, nearer to my father's and grandparents' stories and friends, my impetus for moving to South Dakota, nearer to the Badlands, Black Hills, more raw natural beauty, the bragging rights of having to drive an hour to the grocery store. I didn't want to be in Mission, the prairie, the grocery store and bank. I wanted the hills we were hiking through as we talked, with mountain lions hidden around every pine tree. Trees! Yep, I wanted trees, and hills, and most of all, I wanted to teach high school English. Two years ago, had I the choice, I would have been teaching at some high school in Kyle or...

    Wanblee! I had the opportunity to move there last year after I finished my two year commitment, to teach high school English, and step outside my front door to the bike rides, runs and hikes I now drive hours for, but I didn't. I stayed in Mission. Not for the prairie, or the grocery store and bank in town, but for my school, my students, my principal, after school. I stayed because I wanted my old students to return and visit me and all the relationships I've built with other teachers and my principal. Finally, I am in a place where I can start building up ideas that are bigger than just me, just my classroom. Plus, Gus loves it. Every kid in town knows his name here.

    And then, when I walk up those lovely hills, I appreciate it so much for the drive. I'll be making it more often. Sadie and Gus are horsedogs, rounding them up and looking back at us, wagging for approval. Eventually, we had to even put the leash on Gus. Oh.
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