Ever since I left my home town, my life has been on the up and up. I'm not looking over my shoulder anymore and I don't feel scared to speak my mind. I'm almost ready to even move out of my brother's place and get my own apartment. I have a couple of friends who I might room with. Dan is a distance runner on my track team. We wake up at 5 every morning for a 5 mile run. My friend Lucy is an aspiring botanist who's in my chemistry class. I know neither of them would turn their backs on me. Right now I'm 19 and studying to become a biologist. I'm hoping to intern for the USFS sometime this summer so I can get my foot in the door. Dr. Eggleson has put out his good word for me so I feel quite confident. Last year Miss Merrill became Mrs. Eggleson. I am sincerely happy for the both of them but I couldn't help but feel a small sting of jealousy.
On the bright side, it turns out girls are more into brains than I thought. I do feel like things are getting serious with this girl Mandy. She's in my life science class and has a real passion for STEM. I can't say that it's a for sure thing but I think she's really into me too. She's kind-hearted, has a good sense of humor, and is my age. One of my favorite things about her is that when I look at her, I'm not reminded of anything. She reflects a new part of my life, one that is confident. Eventually I'll have to ask her out on a real date and not just an extensive study session at the local coffee shop. I want to make dinner for her but I'm scared I'll burn Glenn's house down. Maybe I'm getting too far ahead of myself but I won't know until I try.
Whenever I feel like I'm losing my nerve, I think back to my dad telling me that I just couldn't let myself lose. I do miss him but I am glad that we mended our issues before his time was up. His funeral was crowded with the townspeople of Kiowa. Nobody dared to start a commotion with me, maybe due to my more developed physique, maybe out of respect for my mother, whatever the case may be I am thankful. Everyone seemed to be moved when I released about 100 of Rodger's butterflies when he was lowered. Even the former mill workers. I've been sending my mom a letter each week so remind her that she's not alone. It's been especially hard for her but it has caused her to focus a lot of her attention on painting. She has been showcasing her pieces at an art gallery in the next town over. My mom is finally able to explore who she is and what she needs without the worry of taking care of everybody else.
Where I am now, I don't feel insecure about calling myself a tree-hugger. When I lay down at night, I do not dwell on the past nor stress about the future. I take the bad with the good and let go of the things I can't change. There is this journal I keep under my bed. I write in it every day to reflect on what I accomplished and what I could do better. In my spare time I practice meditation and yoga. Although these help me keep my mind in focus, sometimes I need to feel physically away from my troubles. I have been exploring a few of our national forests. Being with nature and enjoying the silence of the city life really brings me a feeling of content. It is during these times in which I am reminded of certain old growth trees back at home. That may be the one memory of my hometown that no one can taint or put a damper on.