I've been thinking a lot lately about why we went west three and a half years ago. First, I guess I should say that it's really about why I wanted to go west, and then the fact that I convinced Kate to go with me. Going somewhere west of Vermont has probably been in my mind since I was old enough to see the Adirondacks across Lake Champlain from the top of Monkton Ridge. Flash forward to the summer before my senior year in high school, and i wonder out loud to my mother about taking a year off between college to ski instruct somewhere "out west."
"You mean you just want to do nothing and be nothing?" She said.
That wasn't how I saw it, but the fear and seriousness in her voice made an impression. College it was, and a move east, all the way to Cape Cod afterward. I spent a lot of time on the Cape wishing I was back in Vermont, and the opportunity to attend Vermont Law School made that a reality. I'd be lying if I said the chance to return to my home state wasn't a factor in the decision to go there. I've written before about leaving law school, but not so much about why I got focused on going west and Montana. Suffice to say that law school was such an immersive experience, it really felt like a decision to leave had to be a decision to leave the region as well.
I hadn't been thinking about being west so much as going west, but once you get where you are going, you have to be there. Does that make sense?
Kate and I were married that summer, we worked temp jobs, Fall came, we got back from the honeymoon and there we were, living with her parents. I felt stir crazy and alone as the date of the start of the new semester approached. Against her own desires, Kate made arrangements for an apartment in Missoula. The way I looked at it, we had reached a critical point in our lives. We were married, had no real jobs, no big commitments, and no other chance to realize this nebulous dream. Why Missoula, Montana? Ben was there, in school. He had taken some stunning pictures of the place and regaled us with his stories of the hiking and wildlife he had already experienced. He was the only person we really knew west of the Mississippi.
That's it. It was west, Ben was there, we didn't have any other commitments. Oh, and I had an overwhelming feeling that the opportunity to "throw ourselves out there" wouldn't come along again. But again, once you get "thrown," you have to address the situation you've thrown yourself into. Basically, that's when this whole blog started.