magical nights + assimilating

After coming back from Massachusetts in December, something has been different. I don't talk about "back East" as much as I used to--the strong pangs of homesickness, which used to strike at the most inopportune of times, don't come. There's nostalgia, sure, and I miss my friends and family, of course, but it's not how it used to be. Somewhere along the line, without realizing it, I embraced living in Wyoming, and things have been very good since then. I've assimilated.

The past month has been busy, and I've stepped away from ~the internet~ quite a bit, and this little space has been quiet, but it's time to share some images from a particularly magical Saturday night.

Driving to Centennial in the dark feels like driving on a road in the middle of the ocean. On either side of the road is inky, navy-black nothingness--it's near impossible to judge where you are, exactly. The only source of light are car headlights, and on that Saturday, they illuminated the icy asphalt. Blowing snow drifted across the road, as thin as tissue paper, whipping around the car. I held onto my steering wheel, white-knuckled, and said Hail Mary's out loud, radio in the background, to keep my mind occupied, crawling along at 30 mph as more experienced Wyoming drivers passed me with ease.

Earlier in the day, the "poker run," a cross-country skiing // snowshoeing extravaganza that including copious amounts of alcohol had occurred, and I was driving out to catch the live music that closed out the day and ferry friends back to Laramie.

Centennial is a tiny town that tumbles down a hill, resting at the foot of the Snowy Range Scenic Byway. It's where the western lifestyle meets the hippie one, a strange amalgation of cultures, that is ramshackle, rustic, wild. The bars are wood-paneled and dimly lit, with animal heads on the walls--that Saturday, they were packed with drunk, sweaty college kids, ski bums, and occasional "adult."

I found my friends enjoying a band in the Beartree cafe, where we split a Mexican pizza and carefully observed the crowd--after that, we headed to a bar connected to the "Friendly Store," which was also a gas station [because, why not?] In a small room with walls covered with landscape paintings, colored lights tinting the room, we swayed to the sounds of Elk Tongue, a local 70's rock style band.

Claire and I headed out around nine--it was snowing, softly, or maybe the wind was just blowing it around, I'm not sure. It was bitterly cold, and I drove back. It wasn't as scary as when I drove there--maybe because the weather was better, maybe because the wind was blowing the opposite direction, maybe because I was used to it.

home for the holidays

canon 6d // dec. 22-27 // boston, bridgewater, stoughton ma

I follow the Patriots hats to my terminal at the Denver International Airport. And no, that isn't a joke, it's actually what I do, because the closer I get on that horizontal escalator, the more and more I see, until I'm sitting in the terminal with two guys decked out in Boston sports gear on either side of me. I sigh, smile, because, yeah, I'm going home. 

I have five days in Massachusetts, and a somewhat overly-ambitious to-do list. There are friends to see, dogs to hug, food to eat, hours to be spent on the couch with family—there’s also Christmas festivities, a day in Boston with Ma, and packing up my bedroom, because my parents are talking about moving. 

Being home feels like a poorly written independent film. I find symbolism in the most miniscule of things—the empty pond, balloons from graduation still hanging from the swingset, a gaudy precious moments nativity set waiting to be set up. All I’m missing is a hookup with a high school classmate, and I’d be set. 

Everything is the same, yet everything is different, with everyone. [yes, a garbage sentence, I know]. My friends live in their childhood bedrooms and commute to work, or school—date the same people, wear the same clothes, sit on the barstool at my kitchen island and play with my dog and nothing has changed, it seems—but they are different. I am different. We are growing up—and I think that’s part of the similar-ness, because I met them all in high school, or college, and so my relationship with each has been centered around us stretching and changing. But the difference is time. Because you can’t see people growing up when you see them every day, or every month, but when you’re gone for big gaps of time, it’s there, right in front of you. Some friends are happy, while others are feeling trapped, at home, at their first job. A couple are in that waiting space, that hopeful feeling that life is going to get really good once they get into grad school or move to the city. And then there’s me—the one who keeps leaving. 

Everyone keeps asking me how I like Wyoming, and I find the words stuck in my windpipe, unable to explain the peaks and valleys of moving 1900 miles away three weeks after I graduated. I shrug and say that I like it, and leave it at that. 

Five days isn’t enough time to do all the things above, though, and there’s a persistent feeling of guilt and shame sitting heavy in my gut, because I don’t get to see all of my friends, and I only get to see most of them once. I have to pack up my bedroom from the last six years—it’s going to be my dad’s office, and in the next house, I will stay in the guest room. The word guest sits heavily in on my chest. I cry as I clean it out, because while I hated that house, it was my first bedroom that was all mine. A lot of good art was made there; a lot of growing up was done, there. There’s an explosive fight in the kitchen on the last day, partially smoothed over by a trip to TGIFriday’s, and then I’m on a plane, again, and I have no idea when I’ll be back in Massachusetts again. 

When I get off the plane in Laramie, drive over the bridge, I cry, again, driving through the dark and empty streets of town. I cry because everything is the same but different—because I had a wonderful time and love everyone in Massachusetts—because I didn’t have enough time—because I am glad to be back in Wyoming, and I don’t understand why. Mostly, I cry because Massachusetts isn’t really home anymore, but Wyoming kind of is, and what a strange, hard thing that is. 

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