Small towns make me nervous. I don’t like the way they make me feel stuck, how a clump of salt clogs a shaker. Growing up in Montana, I’ve seen my lot of small towns and they all share the same broken dreams. The smattering of people appear tattered and worn, as if the wind swirled them around from a previous life of mischief and neglect, and spit them out in a tizzy of confusion.
My parents spun around in that cyclone. Their journey began on the Eastern side of the country, in New York, before I was born. My older sister came along, then after me, my little sister. We all tumbled around in the whirlwind, landing in Montana well before it was time to start our adult lives.
I still live in Montana, this beautiful and forsaken land. Her rawness tantalizes my spirit and kindles a flame of windswept nostalgia. I long for the days when everything seemed perfect, when a bad day was the loss of a favorite pet, and the good days lingered forever before the sunset burned silver in the sky.
Montana is my home, my resting place. I love her the way I love my mother-beyond reasonable capacities to the one who gives life. At this point, I’m not sure who has given me more life, Montana or my mother. At this point, it doesn’t matter. The ongoing tug-of-war between my devotions has simultaneously taken life away. Still, I find myself stuck in a small town like a tattered old soul blown in by the wind.