I’m in my hometown this week of Kalispell, Montana. I spent my first 18 years here in the same house, so every memory I have of childhood through high school graduation is in this town. I love my Montanan roots, but I do agree that Montana is a whole world unto itself. I was in the store today and heard a grandma say, “I used to wear my grandson’s pants, but then I gained too much weight and now I’ve gotta buy my own.” Priceless. Only in Montana…
On the flip side, though, Montana is a place where people really do live a little slower and care a little deeper. It’s still the place where people pour out of their houses when the firetruck comes down their street to see what they can do to help. Not just some people come out, but EVERYONE. Cars keep an eye out as kids ride their bikes down the middle of the road because there are no sidewalks, and every other vehicle is a pickup truck with a dog in the back. Pretense and image is largely set aside by values like hard work and trusting in a good handshake.
Lots of people that molded and shaped everything about my life are still here. Neighbors that greeted me on the day of my birth still live all around my parent’s house. They kept an eye on me all of the time and I knew they’d tell my parents if they saw me do anything wrong. Now they tell me how grown up I look, although in their eyes, I will never be the 35 year old woman that I truly am. I am frozen in time during the stage of big, frizzy hair and crooked teeth. I’m “Gary and Sandy’s Girl” no matter where I go.
Montana is the place where my secrets can’t hide. Everybody here has known me forever and there’s no sense in trying to pretend to be anything that I am not. It is always a healthy reminder of the fact that what I do doesn’t matter to anyone here and it’s more about how much I care. It’s humbling and healthy to come home. It keeps me grounded.
I’m grateful for the heritage I have of having only one home. I know it’s rare for most people to come back to the same bedroom that once held their crib and I consider it a privilege to have so many people in my life who have ALWAYS been there. They are all a piece of me and that’s why I love my Montana roots.