Right now, I feel like I am living a double life. I have been and will be spending a fair amount of time in Missoula, MT. There is a boy there that continues to bring me delight. We both have Fridays off from work. Weekends seem to begin on Thursday nights now. I like it. It’s a 4 hour drive to Missoula. It goes over a high mountain pass. It has been a mild winter so far. It has been quite doable, even taking the smaller car without 4 wheel drive. Holiday weekends, like this past one, mean I can bring Jasper with me. He can spend some time with his sister. We get to go skiing together on the way home. Perhaps the only thing better than knee-deep powder skiing is seeing my son’s ear to ear grin while he is skiing it.
I like Montana. As I descend the east side of Lookout Pass, my spirit begins to soar. There are real mountains, deep valleys, and the Clark Fork river is a constant side-kick companion. The basalt with granite outcropping gives way to the layers of sedimentary rock. The Rockies of MT were the first mountains I spent any significant time in during the summer I worked at Glacier Park. Back in 1981, I promised I would return, and that I would live in them someday. I like Missoula. There is a ski area within 15 minutes of town that has exceptional tree skiing, and the best bar food I’ve ever seen at a ski resort. There are endless places to backcountry ski, hike, or bike; from the Rattlesnake, to Blue Mountain, to the canyons and peaks of the Bitterroot. There is more than one place to get sushi, and multiple microbreweries in town. They have an old theater, a thriving farmer’s market, lots of liberal hippie-like folks, funky old houses, and the best bike shop west of the divide. There is a boy that makes my heart sing, his old dog that I get to spoil, and I can take my daughter out for breakfast anytime I want. It is with a heavy heart that I leave at the end of a weekend. I like Montana.
I like Idaho. As I wind my way down Hwy 95 in the dark, my heart fills with all that is waiting for me here. I see all the snow in the mountains, and I know the rivers will be fine come summertime, even if the fields are barren now. Moscow Mountain becomes visible on the horizon, and I am reminded of all the mountain bike rides, all the trail runs, all the close encounters with moose, and all the naps in dappled sunshine. I drive into town past my favorite coffee shop, and notice folks in the corner setting up to play live music. There are empty seats, and there is no traffic. My friends are here. We make our own sushi and cake, we dance in living rooms and collapse into cuddle piles on couches. They keep me out late, and then I meet others at 5:30 am to swim. My dog is happy to see me, I let my mom know I am home safe and sound, and I return to the work and volunteer life that has taken me 20 years to build. Moscow cradles me in her nest. I like Idaho.
When Jim was dying, he once told his massage therapist that he had 2 hearts. It confounded both her and I. I’m beginning to get it. I feel like I have 2 hearts…and they are both full to overflowing. How lucky am I?