It's sounds odd to admit this, but spring has startled me. Yesterday as I was walking home from work it was well above 70 degrees. There were kids in the streets wearing tank-tops and every car that passed me had their windows rolled down. It occurred to me as I walked carrying my coat in my hand that the last time I was warm like this was last fall when I was living in Wyoming. That was six months ago. And then it struck me that the coming of spring means that I've been gone almost a year.
As I came up to the house where I live, a tidy 1940's log cabin-style home, I saw my dusty Subaru with its Oregon plates. That car has seen a lot of miles now. I guess I have, too. It's just so odd to know that I've been gone as long as I have. I never intended to be out past December. The plan, the original one that is, was that I would go to Wyoming, be there six months and then go back to Oregon to start grad school in June. But instead of going west I went north, choosing an internship in Bozeman over grad school in Eugene. I'd been second guessing, even cursing that decision until recently. January, February and March were tough. There was sickness, family emergencies, work concerns, money concerns and other shortcomings and it was all wrapped in the frigid, gray, biting cold of a Montana winter. I hated it here. I tried to pretend I liked it or at the very least wasn't miserable, but I was. I ignored issues I should have dealt with, letting them eat holes in my life without even realizing it. Every day I wanted to just get up, throw my stuff in that Subaru and not look back.
Come mid-February I had declared I would be gone by March 15th. It was a combination of everything. The weather, the people, the work--all of it. I couldn't and didn't want to find anything good about being here. I just needed to leave. I didn't have a job waiting for me in Oregon, only a couch at Courtney's to crash on. I didn't have a plan either. I just wanted to get the hell out of here. And not having a plan is not like me at all. But I'm stubborn, and when I want to do something odds are I will find a way to do it, regardless of whether or not it's a good idea.
But things change, as they often do. On February 28th Ma called to tell me dad was having bypass surgery. Two days later I was on a plane to Ohio and any plans of relocating were abandoned as I focused on them. I came back and immediately jumped into work with helping to move the offices and the warehouse within a week of each other. I had deadlines to meet (and subsequently miss). After two busy weeks in Ohio I had two even busier weeks in Montana. And then life changed again when my friend, Jason, become my boyfriend. And now, suddenly, it's spring and that long winter I kicked, cursed and stumbled through is over. Life, as it turns out, distracted me while everything else worked itself out.
As I type this I'm sitting on the porch looking out at the yard and the park across the street. My feet, clad in a pair of Frye boots, are propped up on the log railing. A mug of tea, a book and my cell phone are on the ground next to my chair. My roommate has a wind chime that hangs from the rafter and it sounds almost identical to one that my mom had when I was little, though the high note stuck in my memory is missing. Philbert, the barn cat turned house cat, sniffs at the dry weeds next to the porch steps. She doesn't spook or seem concerned when diesel trucks thunder past so I keep an eye on her so that she doesn't go too far. I can see the mountains, still covered with snow from just about every angle in this town. They used to make me nervous, making me feel like I was trapped here. Now their presence makes me feel safe. Funny how that works.
The Subaru remains unpacked these days and my desire to ditch town and run back to the Willamette Valley has all but vanished. I don't miss the rain, that's for sure, and the sun, mountains, forests and rivers of Montana have finally caught my attention. Work, friends, health and family are all great *knock on wood*. To my surprise, spring has found me as a remarkably content person. And now, as I sit here, it feels like this is the calm before the storm, or at the very least a resting point before more transition and change happens. April and May will eventually yield what will happen when the internship is over. Courtney will be moving in in a little over a week, too. But regardless of what happens in the coming months, I am happy about my time here. Yes, I did deviate from my original plan substantially, but I don't regret leaving Oregon and I don't regret coming here. And yes, the thought has also occurred to me that I might not just be passing through Montana. This could very well be the end of the line for a while. How wonderfully strange.