A lot has changed since Lauren Bushnell first came to the Washington area a decade ago.
Her former boyfriends and friends have vanished, and her father is no longer in town.
And as the world has grown more comfortable with her appearance and her gender identity, she’s been on a downward spiral.
The 23-year-old is on the hunt for someone she’s really in love with.
“I think the only way I can make the connection is if I’m alone and I just start talking about it,” Bushnell said.
“But at the same time, I don’t want to just shut it down.”
For the past two years, she has been living out of her car, traveling the country and attending concerts, but even those efforts have been difficult.
“You can’t get your heart out of your body when it’s so packed and you can’t be alone, you know,” Bushneck said.
This is something she’s learned to deal with, but now, she knows the last time she would have a romantic relationship would be when she was 13.
“The one thing I remember, I remember being really scared and nervous about my dad,” she said.
For two years after the breakup, she was still very shy about talking about the relationship, but she has since gotten to know some of her former friends and she is finally open about it.
The conversations about the breakup were more open, and they have helped her connect with people in her life, Bushnell says.
“People have been really understanding,” she added.
“It was like, ‘Well, I guess we’re not all alone anymore.'”
Bushnell is not alone.
“Every year I see it happen, I just feel like I have to do it,” she laughed.
“Especially with my boyfriends,” she joked.
Bushnell and her boyfriend have a new relationship and they’re in the process of starting a new life together.
“We’re really happy,” Bushnee said of their relationship.
“When we started dating, it was hard, because I was a little nervous about it, but after we started getting to know each other, we both really like each other.”
Bushnell recently became a certified massage therapist.
She said she is very excited to continue to practice, because she thinks it will help her with her relationships.
“My boyfriend is so much better than I was, and I’ve learned a lot,” she explained.
“He’s a really good friend, and we’re trying to make the best of our relationship.”