New Growth

May 23, 2001

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I have found my place within myself. Meeting new people is something I thought I would never learn to love, but a week in a half in Yellowstone, living with three other roommates, has opened my eyes to the necessary need of communicating with strangers and getting along with them despite outrageous diversities. I have adjusted, and fully aware of the unavoidable emotional mood swings, I refuse to experience negativity as I regretfully have in the past. This is just a passing in time, and with little space of my own, I am forced into interaction, thus, losing my focus along the way. Some days I would like to blink my eyes and vanish these obstacles that rob me of privacy, but a long walk into the dreadfully small town of Gardiner, Montana helps to relieve my anxieties. I now reside in a dorm-like, century old building rightfully titled “The Bunk House”. Expectations are, once again, put to shame when the reality of an anticipated event, or, more to the point, a journey is not quite what I had intended. I was told on the phone before I got up here that I would be living by the North Entrance of Yellowstone, and they weren’t kidding. I can see the brown arch that reads “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People” right outside my window. Snowcapped mountains can be seen in the near distance so complaining about my surroundings is not an option. However, Gwen and I thought it was just going to be the two of us in a small cabin tucked away in the vast forests of this active volcano, but that just isn’t the case. It almost feels like a commune, but we have rules that don’t apply to the normal, everyday hippie hut. No. Quiet time begins at 10pm, and every night at 10 on the dot, like clockwork, the Bunk House Nazi parades up and down the halls knocking on doors, breaking up any and all social gatherings. She sniffs out pot and incense. She watches for underage drinking, bans all candles, inspects rooms randomly—her name is Jo, and she has been my life-savior as well as my nightly nuisance. My first living arrangements were quite intimidating: my boss was one of my roommates. Gwen and I were given the room key and told to go ahead and unpack our stuff and to make ourselves at home, but that just didn’t seem possible. Looking around at all the decorations, the cleanliness, the personals – we felt like intruders. Jo saw this reaction as I had a difficult time pushing back the frightful tears brought on by disappointment, intimidation, and a sickness for home sweet home. Two hours later she moved us into another room after having to kick some guy out of the room for us. Once again, I cried, touched by generosity. Nowadays, the whole quiet time patrol unit she practices every night is wearing a bit thin. At 24 years old (next month), I don’t enjoy being treated like a child, I mean, I know how to tell time. I can handle whatever is thrown at me, but when I receive my first real paycheck, I’m getting a hotel room.

Author: Lindsay Niemann

Writer | Graphic Artist