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Long Distance Works Sometimes

(when you're both straight girls and speak different languages)

The amazing thing about how I chose to do my road trip, aka mostly by the seat of my pants, is that I can change my mind about where I go, when I go, and how long I stay.

I have a friend named Laura. Laura was my french exchange student when I was 16. She came to stay with me in Quincy for 2 weeks in October of 2008.
In December of 2008 (into January of 2009) me and three of my friends decided we missed our French friends too much to wait to go in April, so we booked plane tickets to leave for Bourges on Christmas. This was the first time I ever left the US, or really traveled at all.
We went back to Bourges in April, too.
Then a few years later Laura was studying abroad in Georgia. She took a December 2011 Christmas trip to NYC and I met her there. (I was in school in NY, but was back home in Boston for winter break. So of course I drove the 3.5 hours back within a week of getting home to see her.)
The next year I was studying abroad in Dublin and started off my December 2012 winter break by visiting her in Tours (where she was doing her masters) and Bourges.
Later that year, while she was interning in Manchester, England, she came to Dublin for a weekend and we saw each other briefly.
And finally, she noticed one of my blog posts on Facebook and commented on it reminding me that she was teacher assistant-ing in Minnesota for the year and I should come see her. So I did. (October 2014)
Quite the saga, no?

Moorhead, MN

Needless to say, when she mentioned where she was I immediately began re-routing my trip to include MN. Not only was I so excited to see her again, I was extremely grateful for the timing. First, she told me at the perfect time for me to actually be able to get to her. Secondly, I came down with strep and really needed a familiar, comfortable person to be around whilst being a giant baby. (I don't do "sick" well. And no, whiskey does not cure a sore throat.) Having known Laura for 6 years, I knew I could count on her to just hang out and relax with me while I drowned my tonsils in tea and honey.

I stayed with her for 4 days. We cooked a lot, laughed a lot, and I even mustered up enough strength to meet and hang out with her friends, roommates, students, and boy-thing.

Her friends and roommates (who also count as friends) were really great (as was Clyde, the boy-thing). April and Sara were the roommates. And while I met a few of her other friends briefly, Crysta is the only one I spent a substantial amount of time with. April and I late-night swapped complicated histories of the (respective) guy we like, Sara gave me some tips on where to go in Colorado and was just generally very sweet, and Crysta put a dread in my hair! (Which I later dyed orange, with Koolaid.) Though she and I met briefly, we really clicked.

My second day there poor Laura had to work all day, so I went with her. She had asked me to speak to her classes a little while I was there, about traveling, France, and studying abroad. At first I felt kind of awkward about it, thinking I wouldn't really have anything of value to say to them. And I'm not too much older than them anyway; what good would my "sagely" advice do? However, talking to them proved to be mutually beneficial. I hadn't fully realized how much I've done and learned until speaking to people who haven't experienced what I have. Not everyone was super receptive, but most of them were really interested and had a lot of questions (that I actually had answers to!) It made me think yeah, I guess I've done some pretty cool things and have a pretty cool outlook on life and experiences. Especially from a third-person perspective. Especially if that third person is from Minnesota...

Laura shrunk my clothes.
But it's okay, because she was being sweet and doing my laundry with hers...
And now I'm just sexily professional and stylish...Right?

I was meant to leave early Thursday morning to get to Mount Rushmore before sunset. And despite having a beer can covered in offensive post-it notes thrown at me within 20 minutes of my arrival, I was having a really good time.
When I woke up, I was feeling some stress and anxiety over getting up and out the door so early, in order to meet a deadline. Then I re-realized my trip is my trip and I can do what I want, when I want, and shouldn't let myself stress over it. So I went back to sleep. Of course, because I slept in, Laura slept in and skipped her office hour. Then proceeded to cancel all her classes for the day to hang out with me. Without discussing it, she assumed I'd be staying awhile passed the planned time as soon as I didn't get right up. She was right.

Fargo, ND

Moorehead, MN is barely a 10 minute walk from Fargo, ND, so we spent some time there too.
I was just so excited to see the Statue of Liberty! (I think now I've seen them all!)

We got coffee at what Laura calls the "secret spot." It was a great coffee shop (I do love me some coffee shops) and had comfy chairs and a removable brick where you could leave letters.


We got lunch at a burrito place, and I think I found my superhero name.
Get it? Cause I'm a vegetarian...So I'm a Veggie Avenger...Haha. Haha. Ha...

Then we walked around a bit. Fargo has this train that passes by and completely cuts off the town until it passes. The railroad crossing is the only way out, and the train takes forever to pass. I think it's a cute quirk. Residents would think otherwise.
There were lots of boobies on Broadway for breast cancer awareness.

I also got to see how North Dakotans/Minnesotans live. Clyde, Laura's beau, took us to meet some of his friends and blow shit up with fireworks in a field. According to his friends, that's about all there really is to do. A blowtorch, plastic pumpkin, cantaloupe, squash, and bunch of bananas later we played with sparklers and set off a flame lantern (which is on my bucket list!)

That, and Walmart.

Laura and I share plenty of jokes that cross the language barrier back and forth. Below being a prime example. For a long time neither of us could say the other one's name properly. (I still cannot for the life of me say hers.) This time around, for the first time, she said my name the American way. It broke my heart a little. I like how the French say my name. Of course this threw us into fits of laughter, as we texted each other from one room over.


I feel incredibly lucky to have maintained such an amazing connection with such an amazing person. It hasn't always been easy, with language and cultural awkwardnesses to overcome, but it has always been worth it. Each year I can see (and hear) us becoming more comfortable and close with each other; from exchange students, to acquaintances, to actual friends. Being with Laura this past time had me thinking (as I perused the isles of Walmart, shouting to Laura about something-or-other) about how much I've changed, really how far I've come, since 16. Much of the reason our friendship has shaken its awkwardness is because I have. My little insecure 16 year old self couldn't form this easy of a connection without being comfortable just being me. While unfortunately I can't say I've fully shaken my insecurities, I can say that I am pretty comfortably me, at least most of the time. (Let's ignore when I'm trying to flirt with someone I actually care about flirting with. That doesn't count.)




Posted by katie_rose 21:50 Tagged road_trip travel adventure usa minnesota fargo north_dakota kflaherty katieroseusa moorhead

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