The Mountains—grow unnoticed—Their Purple figures rise Without attempt—Exhaustion— Assistance—or Applause— E. Dickinson

I understand the science of the east coast mountains, but this, I suppose, is because I am an east coast girl and these are my mountains.

In earth science we learn that mountains are built and leveled over time with water and there is water everywhere over there. The science of the mountains thrills and energizes me, the Smokeys, the Blue Mountains, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains—all of these so pushed up against one another that there is no telling where one range ends and another begins. It is the proof of time passing (as though we needed proof at all).

In Oklahoma or Colorado the mountains are a surprise, a flat sheet of land upset by a sudden rash of wrinkles, God's hands from beneath the earth poking through and rising. These seeming miraculous mountains confuse me and I could stare at them for hours. (I could also stare at the planes that land at the airport near my house for hours, so suffice it to say that the miracle of anything astounds me.)

I puzzle myself with, "How did they get there?" and I'm sure there's a very fine scientific reason for this, but I'll thank you very much to leave your science to yourself and leave me with my wonder.

Whenever I am awake in the middle of the night, it is then that I remember that I am an adult, full grown. This is because there are noises that homes and neighborhoods make in the middle of the night and first I startle, and then I remember that there is no one, just me, to protect me and that will have to be enough.

A few weeks ago one roommate came into my room in the middle of the night, waked by a nightmare. She slept on one half of my bed for half the night while I lay my cool hand across her head.

A week ago another roommate came into my room in the middle of the night and she who is never nerved by pain responded to my questions about emergency rooms and levels of pain with affirmatives and we rushed to clothe ourselves somewhat appropriately. But in this time the pain subsided and so I prayed for her, for peace, and we both returned to bed.

Another roommate regularly comes in when the night is late, brings tea or homemade lemonade or wine and sprawls across my bed where we talk, or not.

This room of mine in these nights of late, these are the ways I become an adult.

How did I get here? I ask myself. Because it was not the way I thought adults were made, through marriage and children and mortgages. It surprises me and confounds me and I suppose I'm in a little bit of wonder at it. Why me? and why my room? Why it is my name on the lease and why do I love these girls as fiercely as one could love friends and as deeply as a childless woman could love her children? They are not mine and I don't mean to belittle them as though they were, but I love them and I am loved by them. And I wonder if this is what adults are made of.

A flat life of no consequence suddenly wrinkled by a deep and fierce love for someone else, a sense of autonomy that leads one to reach out and draw in? Is this what adulthood is made of?

I miss my east coast mountains, but there are other ways to make mountains, I suppose, and in the middle of sleepless nights, the west teaches me that.