{ On January 5th 1996, I moved }

On January 5th 1996, I moved to the West Coast. I arrived in Eugene, Oregon, fourteen hours late. Amtrak as usual.

"My God," I thought. "It's so warm."

Eugene was snow-free. It had its little spurts of winter-like weather, but nothing like what I'd been forced to withstand for seven years.

I noticed something else. Relationships were totally different here. No longer could I expect to be a part of a community solely by surviving a trial every year.

The trials on the West Coast are infinitely small or infinitesimally weak compared to North Dakota. The sheer population here allows anyone to choose whose life they want to be a part of. In the wastelands of North Dakota, I had to choose my companion with wisdom. I wouldn't be able to screw it up. There may not be anyone else willing to hold my hand, as I held theirs.