Alone in Wyoming, I Found My Place Through Karaoke
As a woman of color moving to Laramie, Wyoming, I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in, that I would be unsafe. But at karaoke night at The Ruffed Up Duck, I found my place among the the defiant.
UnforgivenThe Hateful EightWind RiverBrokeback MountainThe Laramie ProjectThe Matthew Shepard Story
’s only 10 p.m. when we walked into The Duck, but the place was already reaching maximum capacity (seventy-eight people, max). There was a small raised stage near the entrance. To its right, a karaoke jockey was taking song requests from a line of four people. A pool table occupied the space in front of the stage, shrinking as more and more people crowded around it.
not the same
Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer from Austin. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Wyoming, is a 2016 VONA/Voices alumna, and a participant of the 2019 Tin House Summer Workshop. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Apogee, CALYX, Ninth Letter, Passages North, wildness, Cosmonauts Avenue, and The Rumpus, with essays in Huffington Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. She is a prose editor for The Adroit Journal and is working on a novel. Find her at jennytinghui.com
More by this author
When I came to Laramie, I found the person I wanted to be. When I left, I took her with me.
There are cowboys out there who echo the conquering-the-west narrative, one of entitlement and legacy and what he is owed.
I take off the effects of the day, the echoes of wind, sleet, and snow. I pamper my skin, urge it to replenish and heal. I am asking myself to brave another day.
More in this series
In this small town of Laramie, what you say matters. It gets around. The only way to combat the misinformation is to keep telling the truth.
Imagining the city rebuilt so that beavers can return is an exercise in humility.