Nose Rings & Moving West


This month – and spilling into early July – marks a couple of large milestones.

Written on June 5th, 2018:

On my fourteenth birthday, I got my nose pierced on South Street in Philly. It was the summer before I entered high school and I regarded the piercing as a symbol of my coming of age. I’m now a month away from turning 39-years-old.

This morning, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I took out my nose ring to clean it, just as I’ve done a million times before. Only, today something was different. I decided not to reinstate it back where it belonged. I’ve not spent a whole day without a stud in my left nostril in one month shy of 25 years. I don’t even see the piercing for the most part anymore when I look at myself. It has simply melded into my facial composition, becoming just as much a part of my appearance as my acne scars and eyebrows.


Written on June 8th, 2018:

This morning, as I ran a towel over my face after showering, I instinctively made the allowance for my nose piercing, arching the towel around the left side of my nose, as as not to rip the earring out.

Then I remembered. There was no nose ring to make such necessary accommodations for anymore.

I took it out – and left it out – 3 mornings ago.


As an update: the nose ring is still out.


I realized just this morning that in interesting and accidental accord, this month also marks the 20-year anniversary of when I packed up my bags and my boyfriend at the time named John, tossed them in my blue Pontiac I affectionately named Towanda – inspired by one of my favorite movies of all time: Fried Green Tomatoes – and took off from my home stomping ground of eastern Pennsylvania, on the long and lovely drive to Missoula, Montana, a few days before I was set to turn 19. Depending on whether you venture on through North or South Dakota, it’s a distance of 2,348 or 2,346 miles – or, if you want to avoid the Chicago metro area, 2,384 miles. Any way you sliced it, it was about 2,200 more miles than I’d ventured out on my own, prior to leaving the nest.

So, here I am. 20 years post leaving home where I was born and raised, having found the place I now call home, as a proud and grateful Montanan, and a proud and grateful Missoulian. And now, too, I’m sans nose ring for the first time in almost 25 years.

When I was attending my first year of college back east, before I prepared to transfer out west to the University of Montana, I was dead-set on being western bound. I guess you could say I had a calling. But it was more than that. It was like a shouting. It’s the only time – other than when I married my husband – that I was 100% sure about something working out. I just knew on a bone-deep level that I had to do it.

I had a theme song back then, that I would belt out when I was alone at home in my room, which served as a sort of rock anthem helping to keep me properly fueled up and ready to roll: Led Zeppelin’s Going to California. But I’d change the lyrics slightly and sing: Going to Montana, with an aching in my heart.

Even though I don’t really feel this way personally, I’m now also reminded of a Grateful Dead song quote that my mom let me scribe on one of the bedroom walls of my youth: What a long, strange trip its been.



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