I am currently writing this from a stranger-now-friend's couch in Jackson, Wyoming (seriously, I have been so uplifted by the Couchsurfing community and have learned so much about different parts of the country because of it). It's been an eventful last handful of days of travel. It's presently snowing in Montana, and I am feeling highly thankful for my timing—that wrapping up my last stop in Cut Bank coincides with the winter finally seeming to arrive in this part of the states. Hopefully my good luck continues! <fingers crossed>
One of the things I really marvel about regarding our day and age is how technology can instantly link us to seemingly everywhere and everyone. A friend who is thousands of miles away can instantly appear in the form of a video chat, Facebook message, or text. Somewhere, my elementary/junior high school self is floored.
I remember after learning that a "modem" can connect you to other people through "chat"—I ran to our old school original Macintosh (!) and tried fiddling around with it, so excited that this computer could actually connect you with other people! We didn't have a modem connected to that computer, but I remember sitting in front of the screen in hopes that someone across the world would magically appear to say hello. My younger self was just blown away that you could actually talk to someone on your computer!
Good grief, have times changed.
So, because of our incredible advances in tech—combined with a good deal of moving around/traveling—whenever I say goodbye to someone, it's really more of a see you soon/later.
This project has me saying hello/see you later many times. Some of the best hellos (again) are reuniting with people whom I haven't seen in years. On my way out of Cut Bank down south (Arizona is my next stop!), I was able to meet up with two friends from UT—both of whom I haven't seen in over a decade. And in both cases, it seriously just felt like we picked up where we left off. To me, it felt like picking up from the last "see you later."
Whenever a great reconnection happens after many years, it's like a smile spreading across your soul—like time and space aren't so separate after all.
And leaving Cut Bank was tougher than I expected. Tougher in the sense that I did meet some great folks and I wonder about the next time we may see each other again. Cut Bank is a very isolated place—it's 100 miles west of Great Falls, and Great Falls isn't exactly the easiest city to get to, either. As I was driving away from Cut Bank, there was the quintessential sign that read something along the lines "come back soon/see you soon!". And I felt weird. It was such a haul to get to Cut Bank—that I really was questioning if I would ever see the people I worked with and met again. To me, it seemed like it would have to take a deliberate reconnection by one or both parties for that timing to realign again.
It made me sad to think about. I think about the wonderful people I have met during the last 5 months on this journey (and really during my entire freaking life). You are all like stars splattered across the universe—always there, some farther away in distance than others, some you can see with your eyes, and some you can't. But you're always there.
This is dabbling in some metaphysical stuff but here goes: the energy or connection is truly never lost. We're all just a bunch of balls of energy, and each of our interactions with each other transfers into the next interaction, and so on, and so forth. Each of us is a product of not only our own doing, but due to the interactions and relationships with other people—just a giant wad of transferrable energy.
I've wrote a bit about how my time in Cut Bank wasn't always the easiest. But that difficulty was balanced by an intensive learning experience of rural, small town life as well as life on a reservation—and intersecting paths with a number of people who I nearly certainly would not have met before. And I am so, so, so glad I did. I strongly feel that it's almost like a science equation: that bringing two people together is going to yield some type of reaction.
And I like to think that reaction is like a forward moving energy—the kind deeds that were bestowed on to me in Cut Bank will absolutely be paid forward and so on and so forth. And I hope that my actions and words were impactful so that energy lives on in its own way. I hope that my work and my passion to agitate in the name of social justice will continue to resonate somehow. So, regardless of whether or not a person is near us in physical form, their essence and influence can still be present.
Plus, another point is you never freaking know where you'll see someone again. I never would have ever thought that I would have run into Kristen and Khalid in Montana of all places! But, such is the way life works out sometimes, and it makes those reconnections even more special.
This week, I am feeling particularly connected with you all as a realization of all this. Sometimes in this part of the country, I have moments where I feel like an island—no one that I know around me for miles and miles.
But all I have to do is use technology to get reconnected with you all, to be able to write posts like these. The last two days, I had the opportunity to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton here in Montana/Wyoming—I was so excited as I have never been to this part of the country and I wanted to absorb it all.
Both at Yellowstone and Grand Teton, I don't know what it was—it was just this raw, awesome natural beauty that literally made me say out loud to myself: "I am so fucking glad to be alive!" (Haha! Seriously! This place just brought it outta me.) It's all a friggin' miracle, really—you, me, those Tetons, that herd of bison that held me up in a traffic jam (yes!). Sometimes we just get buried in our day to day hustle that the "holy shit" feeling of how wild this thing called life really is. What a privilege it was to be able to see those majestic beauties. And these moments to appreciate considerable beauty exist all around us on the daily.
So, for now it's a see you later—hopefully in Idaho, Salt Lake City, and Arizona—my next project stop! I am truly grateful to have each of you who is reading this right now come across my path. I see you and am better for it.