I grew up in Alabama and moved to Boston for college—I was looking to make a major change. Mission accomplished: At orientation, they announced a student barbecue, but it turned out to be just hamburgers and hot dogs. Where I'm from, that's called grilling, not barbecue. I would say "car insurance," and my roommates would correct me: "It's insurance." And where was all the sweet tea? I kept a mental log of the differences, like a cultural anthropologist.

I was so nervous for my first winter; as a kid, I'd worn flip-flops most of the year. I'd read about seasonal depression, and I was wondering how cold a person had to be before their toes fell off. But when the snow finally started, it felt like the whole world was transformed. A friend and I clomped through knee-high powder; late at night we went out exploring, and everyone was shoveling and chatting and having a great time. This picture was taken at my buddy's house in Vermont after a massive storm. We must have shot down his driveway on our cheap plastic sleds a million times that day.

I always wanted my life to be defined by constant discovery—I figured I'd spend a few months of each year traveling. But now I'm thinking about staying put and going to nursing school, its own kind of adventure. Being "stuck" here, in a place that can create this kind of magic, doesn't sound bad at all.


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