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a trip to the wild

I am currently on a trip back home. Back to the Familiar. Back to the Basics. Back to my roots.

[image: A landscape photo of a line of buildings and houses with a sunset sky in the background. On the left is a small building that has a sign that says "Laundry." There is a motel located across the empty street. There is an empty parking lot with only one parked car.]

Wyoming is a place that has always held a sense of isolation and disconnection for me. This wasn't always necessarily a bad thing, especially when isolation and disconnection is needed. With it's expansive and sublime landscape, the golden-light sky, and small blemishes of towns and gas stations, it's a foreign feeling from a place like Washington. It no longer felt like I was a resident-- I was in a liminal position between old friend and new guest. Even so, there was always a part of it that felt like home. The decision to make the trip was fairly immediate. My mother had recently left the hospital, and I was feeling stagnant and depressed. No one talks about how most emerging artists feel right after graduating. I was restless and yet exhausted at the same time. I was working at a job that I wasn't really happy with, and I wasn't making a lot of artwork either. Honestly, I was mostly worried about making rent and paying off bills to do much of anything else. And I was suffering from it. It's so easy to get stuck in something, and not see something that is beyond you and your problems. Especially if you're one thousand miles away from family and your childhood refuge. So what else can you so besides reflect, observe, and breathe? I knew that Wyoming was going to do that for me.

For those of us who are non-male-identified, however, making a solo trip across a few state could potentially unnerving, especially when no one knows about it. I wanted my arrival to be a surprise for my mom and family, but I also needed someone to know where I was going. It was frustrated, but I knew that it was the best.

Even so, I knew that it was a trip that I had to do alone. I knew that driving there, on an open road, with a bag of chips and a good playlist, was something that I always craved for. And I hated that these experiences seemed to be reserved for the masculine type. So I took initiative. As I drove across the great continental divide, and towards the dusty, western landscape of southeast Wyoming, I started thinking about rural towns and creative beings. I wondered what life would be like for me in the more rural areas of the west-- places like Deer Lodge, Montana, or Chugwater. I wondered how my identity would shift, how my creative process would shift. I wondered how I would get by. But being an artist, I find my ways. It was oddly exhilarating to go through these small ghost towns, to see the local Saloon, the rickety neighborhoods, and the one-stop streets of downtowns. I felt like I had opened an old memory, and time machine that I never quite appreciated before.

[image: A view of a red, wooden hallway from the second level of a motel.]

The trip back home wasn't always fun though. My car broke down between the town of Billings and Sheridan-- right next to a forest fire! I had to spend the night in Sheridan only to find out that there was a rag stuck in my air filter from when I get an oil change. There were also a lot of times where I found myself in compromising situations: stopping next to the freeway to take a quick photo, going to questionable gas stations, and talking to complete strangers. I met an older woman while my car was getting fixed, for example, and found out that she just left an extremely abusive situation. She had resided at a halfway house in Butte, escaping a man who threatened to bury her in the mountains west of the state. There was an odd sense of connection there. Oddly enough, she was on her way to Washington. It was such a small moment between us, a young girl and an older woman, but it was an experience that really stuck with me. So in the meantime I'm back home, safe and sound. This visit has helped me in a lot of ways. I've spent a lot of time with my chronically ill mother, visited old friends, and returned to my witchcraft. I feel very good about this little vacation, even if I'm stuck in the rural land of the cowboys. But oh how I enjoy the sunsets. Stay wild, Wyoming.

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