I've lived in Montana for 11 years now. It's been a big decade +1, including graduating from high school, college, coming "home" from grad school for breaks and summer, and my current job, where I met and married my husband. We now own a house and have a dog in Montana.
And when I travel and people ask me where I'm from, I say Montana. It has a kind of exotic, wild meaning to many people.
But when someone in Montana asks me where I'm from, I struggle to answer. In a state recently flooded with people from somewhere else, most of the Montana-native population puts a premium on being born and raised in the state; no matter how ridiculous that is. Apparently you don't "get" Montana if you haven't been here your entire life?
Anyway, I was born in Montana, in the state capital of Helena (Hell-en-a, NOT Hel-E-na). My family lived in Montana until I was 4, and moved back when I was 17. I've spent more time living in Montana than in Washington, where my parents are from. Where my husband is from. Where 95% of my family still resides.
So where am I from?
I'm driving to Eastern Washington today, to visit my sister in school at Washington State. To visit my grandparents. To visit my mom, who will join my dad in Pocatello in the fall. To visit my extended family. I miss them all. I also miss the landscape of open rolling fields, tidy farm towns and church steeples.
It sounds very Scarlet-about-Tara-in-Gone-With-The-Wind, but Eastern Washington is home for me. People and customs and cultures I know.
But, yet, I don't know. I visit and we'll gossip about the neighbors and there's always a point in the conversation when I get the "Oh Courtney, you know so-and-so!?"
To which I reply, "No, I don't think I do."
To which they reply "But he's your cousin!"
To which I reply, we're Catholic, I only know my first cousins; the remaining 3259867456 are unknown!"
It's a funny thing to have many places to call home, yet feel a little unrooted.