Although it wasn’t intended, it somehow seems appropriate that our last stop happens to be my hometown. We stay with my oldest friend, KayCee, born two days before me in the same hospital, I have known her my entire life. Now the mother of three, she allows us to take over the basement/playroom with our wardrobe crates and by now busted up cardboard boxes. Once our subjects Chloe and Halisia arrive we pack up the van and head to Missoula’s favorite greasy spoon cafe and 1940s Americana time capsule, Ruby’s Cafe. Here I am channeling David Lynch, also born in Missoula, whose oeuvre has consistently offered inspiration to my own aesthetic and narratives, so when we wrap up our shoot (and slice of Ruby’s berry pie), we relocate to the train tracks and evergreens. As forrest fires rage on the outskirts of town, the sky is violet as the last of the day’s blood orange sun starts to sink into the horizon. While shooting near the tracks a man in a big white Ford truck screams out to us. With a newfound courage, perhaps from enduring the rigors of this journey, I scream back at him even louder. Rather than speeding off though, he turns quickly, driving in our direction and I immediately regret provoking him. When I see the Montana Rail Link signage on his foreboding truck, a wave of relief overcomes me; the worse case scenario is only a trespassing fine.
As we wrap this final shoot Sheri and I are both overcome by an urge to weep. We’ve given this magnificent journey our all. We’ve had the opportunity to reveal our best and brightest assets and the experience has both humbled and empowered us in ways we didn’t anticipate. We are weary, but after 30 days the pace of the trip has become our norm. In the subsequent days, idle time will produce anxiety as we recalibrate to our respective homes and lives. This journey and its route, like the veins through our body are indelible. -Holly
Chloe Sky Dittloff, 18
“I’m a member of the Blackfeet Southern Piikani community, and at the heart of being Blackfeet is the ability to strive in the face of adversity and maintain humor and compassion.“As a child, I faced a lot of the adversity early on, with my aunt being murdered and large swaths of my family ceding to alcoholism. I thought it best to play the harmless role of the jester — making people laugh in between their inevitable bouts of sorrow. I thought this was all good and fine until that sorrow found its way to me.
“I never want to be a stagnant person. I think you begin to fester when you stop growing — and I do not want to be the human equivalent of moldy Tupperware.”