"I'm in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration,
respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana
it is love. And it's difficult to analyze love when you're in it."
I had longed to live in Montana since the year I started high school. I think in our youth there is always a longing for those far away exotic places, but for me Montana was as far away and exotic as I could get. The state just held an allure for me and I vowed that someday I would eventually live in Big Sky Country. Surprisingly this longing was not grounded in the natural beauty of the state, but in something simpler--its lack of people. Montana has a population of less than a million people (974,989 hearty souls) spread out over a land base of 145,552 square miles. That equates to about 6.2 people per square mile (national average is 79.6 people per square mile)--this is an introvert's wildest dream come true! Yep, Montana was the state for me and some day I was going to make it come true.
It is funny how dreams come true when a person least expects it--kind of hits you like a 2x4 out of nowhere. But God works that way when we got a call out of the blue from our friends in Montana about the possibility of working in a couple of churches looking for ministers. Three months later . . . the wife and I, 75% of our children, and the two dogs moved to Montana on a cold, rainy Labor Day nearly three years ago. There are days that we wake up and have to pinch ourselves because it all seems like a dream.
Growing up as a military brat we moved around quite often as my father was stationed across the United States. It was a sort of nomadic life that we led, and one that we never did stay anywhere long enough to set up roots. Because of that I never really had a sense of a place that I called "home", but the longing for a place to call "home" was always there. Nebraska came close and is still one of my favorite places in the world. As much as I loved Nebraska and its people, it just didn't quite feel like "home". It was more of a habit--a comfortable existence--than it was a love affair. Since moving to Montana the wife and I have found our "home". Neither one of us is planning on leaving anytime soon, if ever.
Now that might be because we have bought our first home and we are mortgaged out the wazoo for the next 30 years and the housing market in the United States sucks. It might be because we live in the perfect location--45 minutes from all the conveniences and culture of the big city and 26 miles from the playground of the Beartooth and Absaroka Mountain Ranges which we can see from our little town. It might be all the critters we get to see--whitetail and mule deer, moose, antelope, elk, bears, buffalo, and an array of birds--sometimes even in our backyard! It might be only being a couple of hours from Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. It might even be a spiritual thing with all of the wineries and breweries the state has--they make some wonderful wine and micro brews here. It might be because we have found a place where we feel that we are blessed and destined. And, then again, it might be that we are getting old and tired of moving around and this is it. Whatever the case, my Montana love affair has become a reality.
Like Mr. Steinbeck stated in the quote above, I have a lot of "admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection" for other states, but I love Montana. Some dreams take longer to realize . . . but they are worth it when they come to fruition. Governor Brian Schweitzer says, "We have always been dreamers in Montana." Dreams do come true . . . don't ever stop dreaming.