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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