Missoula, MT

My last memory of Missoula, Montana was driving away from her. East on highway 93 and ultimately east more still through strange highways taking me here.

I remember the feeling of urgency. grasping at something fleeting. hoping my eyes and memory would be enough to hold me through the next couple months of my tangled life.  I whistled for my heart to follow me, but I know part of her is still there.

And in a couple of days I’m coming back for her. To see what of me remains there. Old past parts I may or may not know anymore.

I fell in love there. I passed my heart from my hands and cast her out. I got fat and made friends and had sex and rode horses and stopped writing. So much fill from one place and I followed so many other voices, but my own. I still didn’t know what I was capable of, I still didn’t know how to make friends with it.

But I think now I do. I know now I do. I haven’t been back since graduation: May of 2006. And while I’m worlds away now from the me that I knew then I can’t wait to see the open mouth of  Hellgate, the Bitterroot mountains gold and blue, the M, the clarkfork river, the valley that held me and set me free at the same time. I hope so much has changed and I hope so much has stayed the same.

I’ve nestled myself into a lot of homes. But this one is dear to me. I haven’t let myself think of her too much in the past couple of years because I know I would miss her too much. I want to smell the air again, the paper mill. I forget what it smells like now or how the sun feels sleeping on the oval in the heart of campus. I forget how silent the snow is (it’s silent here, but here is not there). I’m going to see old friends who will recognize my face, but maybe not me.

It isn’t until we go back that we see how far we’ve come.

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