Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dreaming of Big Sky Contry

It's been a day of dreaming with my eyes open. I'm feeling nostalgic for a place I've never been in this lifetime. Actually, I drove through Montana once, on a 2010 return to the east coast after a term I refer to as "my year out west." I don't count that brief encounter as an official visit, though the majestic scenery from the interstate at 70 miles-per-hour only solidified more firmly what I've felt since 1996 - I must go there. 

Montana started calling to me during my summer break from college between my sophomore and junior years. I had traveled the past two summers, to St. Croix and Germany, respectively, and I equally longed for more travel as much as the opportunity to spend time with friends on the beach near my home. Staying put also afforded me time to visit with my mom and brother; things I cherished. Early that summer I surfed the Internet and found a job posting to wait tables or sell merchandise at Glacier National Park on the website (Remember, this was still early-days of Internet, dial-up and all. Email wasn't yet a common-place form of communication.) I didn't apply for the summer employment opportunity in Montana. I don't think I even talked to anyone about it, but the desire lingered in me.

 I ended up waiting tables that summer in Charleston and swimming my fair share in the warm Atlantic waters of Folly Beach. It was a good summer, but in staying put I charged the mystic of a far away land, with big mountains,  snow capped peaks, high meadows, big sky, and the unknown.

Photo by Jon Sullivan
If I've had past lives I don't remember them, and I have a pretty healthy skepticism about whether our souls are reborn into new bodies in the first place. But, if I had a past life, I wonder if it was time spent pioneering the western frontier. What accounts for the nostalgia I feel for life on the open range?  Did I watch too many old westerns with my parents and grandparents? Or, does age impact our longing for "the way things were," because I don't remember gaining the emotionalism for the days-of-old until I was about 30. In any event, Montana has captured my imagination and my waking dreams. 

So as I talked out loud to myself today I questioned how I'll lay down the path to my dream. I asked:
When are you going to go? 
What form will it take? caretaking, hiking the Montana part of the CDT, biking, a travel writing gig, Glacier National Park
How will I do it?  
Will I learn to ride a horse while I'm there? 

As I asked the questions, they resonated in my gut like a singing bowl, a reverberation of excitement for the possibilities, for saying "yes" to opportunities, for the reality of organizing the longing into action, and all of that twinged with the aching unknown.

From 1996 to this day, there has been a magic hold on me that tingles when I think about Montana.

What long held dreams do you harbor?