Two weeks ago I drove home on a Thursday evening, watching the sunset at 70 mph (alright, I might have been speeding a bit, we’ll say 75-ish) on the highway. I spent the evening with loved ones and retired in a new, and yet old, location, and woke up feeling excited where I was for once.
In a way, I’ve finally begun to appreciate Helena. When you grow up in a town where you see at least one person you know in the grocery store, Target, and everywhere else, it can feel like a cage, a terrible backwash of memories and growing up that you don’t want to relive. It was in this town that I went through my awkward adolescence, where death happened a mile from my house, where too many nights with nothing to do rested on my mind. It saw me at my worst, and sometimes I feel like it hasn’t seen me at my best.
My best is when I’m on a night train or when I’m wandering in a new city. My best is when I’m trying something I can’t pronounce in a new restaurant, or when I’m being challenged by a new experience. Helena isn’t exactly a hotbed of such challenges, and thusly I often feel slightly lobotomized when I am in the midst of this town. This last year, though, Helena has become a bit brighter. I’ve discovered new little things about it, new haunts and places to wander. It now feels more comfortable than hostile, more easy than reluctant.