It’s a bright, hot evening in Mountain View — the kind of night people stand and visit in the shade outside apartment buildings, kids ride bikes in the street and passing ice cream trucks draw a crowd. On a concrete bench behind the community center, a woman sits alone.
She says her name is Joan Williams; her story goes like this:
She was a Montana girl, until the divorce. At 25 or 26, newly single, she struck out for Alaska, found work at a fish plant in distant, windy Akutan, caught a boat up to Nome, rode out to St. George, moved down to King Cove, flew up to Anchorage, returned to King Cove, spent some time in Nelson Lagoon and eventually landed back in Anchorage.
“I did all that,” she says.
“So I’m out here now.”
More than 30 years after she came west from Montana, she ended up in Mountain View. She knows people around here. While her family still lives hundreds of miles and several borders away, Alaska feels like home. Mountain View isn’t so bad, either.
“It’s how you make it,” she says.
And she chooses to make the best of it.
Then it’s time to go. She’s on a mission to find dish soap; there’s housecleaning to do.