I’ve been here before. I’ve stared distantly off into these purple mounded mountains at other times in my life, like I’m doing now. They jut from the flat valley floor like half-crumpled wads of paper; 360 degrees of pine-green-blanket, postcard-level scenery. It all feels so familiar. A warm breeze pushes me gently through my days, easing me back into a home I left behind. I’m happy to be back, happy to stare out at the city of my upbringing through eyes and spirit that feel somehow different.
I guess I could say I relocated to Montana, and maybe that’s what makes me qualified to write about it despite my long-standing status as a resident. I wandered away, seeking other places and experiences, restless and excited. And I found them. And now I’m back, despite what I may have intended two years ago. And I’m really, really glad.
Montana feels like home even when I don’t want it to. Even when my mind tells me I should be pursuing bigger, faster opportunities--somewhere like New York or Seattle or Hong Kong. But my heart knows that thoughts like that are just thoughts. It’s nice to recognize people in the grocery store and live slowly and hear people respond to the question “what do you do?” with something other than their job title. It’s nice to see life built on passion rather than income, and it’s refreshing to talk about something other than the news.
I guess the desire to leave will always exist. We seek the unquenchable unknown, despite our best attempts at security. But having left and returned, I can say that Montana is an amazing place to call home. I’m re-settling in a land that I once believed I would leave forever. Out of ignorance or curiosity, I just had to know what else existed beyond the known walls of my world.
And don’t get me wrong, other wonderful places surely exist in abundance across the globe. If Montana wasn’t a thing, I’d be living in New Zealand or Vietnam still, soaking up the alien beauty of their cultures and geographies. But Montana does exist, and once you get here and really take it all in, really give it a chance to be your home, there’s a part of you that will always live here. And when you wander away for a year or a decade, like I did, you’ll never stop thinking about the state where the sky actually is objectively bigger.