If history teaches me anything it will be that I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I mean, look, here I am trying to write an “I’m leaving Montana, what now?” post, and all I can think about is Boyz II Men crooning their ode to farewells. Damn good song, that one.
Time to focus! And so, today marks the end of my month in Big Sky Country, and naturally, I’m feeling the butterflies that accompany my adieus to that towns where I’ve lived. To those who know me or read this blog, my feeling misty at this particular departure wouldn’t be a surprise; I’ve repeatedly remarked on how living in Montana has been a dream since I was a young.
I may love Montana fiercely, it’s true, but what has surprised me is that I’m not feeling nostalgia for Montana as a home. Funny thing, while I’ve utterly loved my time here, and while I still contend that the state has perhaps the most epic landscape in America (with Utah pitching in a good fight, as well), I’ve never actually felt like Montana was — or could be — home. And I’ve gotta say, that reaction was not part of the plan.
To be sure, I never intended on moving here, but I assumed that a place I felt such kinship for would certainly course through my blood. I believed I would arrive, settle in, and know I was home — on a soul level. I had visions of buying a mountain home to visit during the summer season, and returning each year to hike now-familiar trails.
What happened instead? In short, I feel like a longstanding itch has had a good scratching. I can rest with ease knowing that from the bottom of my big heart, I love this breathtaking landscape filled with kind, funny and quirky people. And I can also know with certainty, that this is not my home.
Even more unexpected is looking back at the places we’ve lived thus far and realizing that in St. George, Utah — ST. GEORGE, UTAH?! — I felt more like I’d stumbled home than I have here. Case in point: sometimes, there’s an intangible that draws you to a place. That makes you feel like you can sit back, kick up your heels and stay awhile. A good, long while.
It makes me wonder if there’s some old soul stuff at work here. Did I need to revisit Montana to settle a score long-forgotten? I’ll never know for sure. What I can count on is a wealth of memories of startling scenery, scores of wildlife, hikes I never thought myself capable of accomplishing, and those Big Sky Country vistas — oh, the vistas — that will always be superlative.
So why, then, the misty memories? These past 6 1/2 months were really the first leg of our location independent lifestyle. The end of our Montana stint was as far as we’d planned, from way back when in autumn 2012. I know it’s not the end of our journey, but it is the closing of the first chapter. And from landlords out of Carl Hiassen novels and postcard-perfect beaches, to the magic of the high desert and Utah’s extraordinary reality — well, it’s been a helluva beginning.
The next chapter is in the works, and lest you wondered, why yes, it does involve beaches. And those beaches will likely involve sunsets and oysters. But first, a stop back on the East Coast to see my peeps!
And so, as I pack my final bags and plastic boxes o’ stuff, I leave you with perhaps the greatest fare-thee-well song of all time. Or, ok, at least the ’90s.