A Newport Natale, Rhode Island

When I was in the third grade, I wrote a letter to a school pen pal in Rhode Island. She never wrote back. Rhode Island and I have been on the rocks ever since.

Last Christmas, My full-bearded boyfriend and I landed in Boston with a few huge suitcases, packed for a second (long-term) trip out west. Justin's brother Jason helped us cram our bags into the back seat, and we made our way to Newport for the meeting of the parents and drinking of the alcohol. The two go hand in hand. Lucky for me, Justin's family is the cat's pajamas and I felt so at home, I had to be talked down from the upstairs loft three days later when it was time to leave.

As for Christmas, suffice to say there was the famed gin martini, a backyard fire, eggnog, and rain-making at the dinner table. Many Santas were in attendance.

The following days were lazy, cozy and peppered with chocolate chip cookies. Newport itself is a photographer's playground, a historic port town with red brick candy shops and fisherman wharf cafés. We countered the cold with heat yoga and hot coffee, and spent afternoons exploring the streets and admiring art galleries.

We passed a number of high iron gates and palatial estates on our way to Ocean Drive, where the dark rocks and empty coast reminded me less of the aged urban centers I had envisioned; and more of the unbridled pockets of wild I am forever chasing. Even in her grey cloak of winter, the rugged Rhode Island coast drew me closer.