Being outside, in the quiet corners of wilderness, has been the only thing that’s gotten me through the past few years, and especially the past 12 months. Nature is so good for introverts. Nurturing, restorative, but ultimately unconcerned about your presence. It’s got bigger things to think about.

The quarantine hasn’t hit me as hard as most people simply because my job, by nature, is super solitary. And also, so is my life, to be honest. I’m already very shy, which my speech issues have never really helped with, but I’ve basically been self-quarantining for the past five years, having lost three entire families in that pretty short time.

One family by choice, but two by weird, inexplicable circumstances.

Finding the Low and then the Mountaineers helped me find who I really was because they didn’t care how I looked or sounded. It wasn’t even an issue. I was able to be a brighter, bubblier version of me, or rather, just— more— me. I think, in my virtual interactions with them, I found who I really was, not just what other IRL people or I saw me as based on my appearance, inhibitions, and perceived impairments.

I know why I lost the Low, and to be honest, they weren’t the family I first thought they were (though I forged some very serious friendships there) but the Mounties… they were the real deal, and though it was only a matter of months, I miss them the most because I’d never been so welcomed … anywhere really. I don’t know what happened, whether they fell prey to whatever dissolved the Low, or something else … or maybe they just went into hiding and didn’t feel I belonged with them?

I don’t know. It’s been a not-good year. I miss the magic. Not the performative stuff so much as the magic Brandon Lachmann talked about. The hidden connections between things and people.

I miss my friends.