How do I even start my story about Montana? With a sigh? With a tear? Maybe a little of both and a hint of a smile. Montana. It started May 1st, I met a man (off of Tinder) who was here visiting, recording an album. I didn’t think much of it before we met, and the plan to meet wasn’t set in stone. It was my favorite, non committal type of plan, if we’re both in the same place at the same time, then we’ll meet. No expectations, no pressure.
We ended up at the same place, at the same time. I had met a few of my out of town friends in the busiest most touristy part of town but they weren’t able to stay long and so I had some options of people to meet up with next. I sent a message and went to one of my favorite bars right off of Broadway. It shares it’s name with a movie, there’s no cover for females and if you’re brave (or just really liquored up) you have a platform to dance on. It was but a quarter of an hour at most before I got the text of arrival, I turn around and there he was, looking better than the pictures I had swiped right on. It was a moment, one of those where things just click, where there’s no one else in the room, where there’s a straight path from you to them. That moment turned into a full night of picking songs at that favorite place, of trying to beat the crowd and find somewhere to partner dance, of feeling like a queen walking around with her real deal cowboy date. He bought me a rose from a guy in the street, and I didn’t stop him. We walked the pedestrian bridge and laughed about all sorts of things. There was a moment a second too late where I wondered if he had just been about to kiss me, and then so many second after trying to recreate that space so it might happen.
There was an adventure out to the Parthenon at 2:30am because it wasn’t time to go home yet, home meant him leaving in the morning and I wasn’t ready. We walked around, we hid from possible cop cars, and another of those moments, but still mostly friendly banter. Then back to the parking lot where his car was, trading opinions on country music, and then him saying it was time to dance, right there, music playing from the car. Laughing because dancing on an unkept parking lot surface is so much different than wood floors. Talking and talking about nothing and everything because it wasn’t time to go but we weren’t ready to make the move forward. And then finally calling it, him walking me to my car, me getting in and just looking at him, and then getting back out. A goodnight kiss that was everything it needed to be and nothing more.
An amazing first date.
Go through then, a montage of daily text messages and then moving up to phone calls. Questions, questions, questions about past, present and future. The work of getting to know someone. The frustrations and limitations of work schedules and distances. He living in Texas, a place I had left my ex because of distance almost a year before. An attempt from him to come back here and then the invitation for me visit on his trip back home. A state I had never been in, but had been thinking about going to… Montana.
Two weeks later I was on a plane, ticket paid for, feeling once again quite like a queen in cowgirl boots. Antsy for hours at a time and then I arrived, in that small airport of Missoula. I walked out of the airport to a sky that I’m sure I’ll never forget. Quiet, calm, spotted with clouds, mountains in the distance with frames of trees. He picked me up in a diesel truck and off we went. We drove for over an hour, windows down, my hand out taking it all in. The sky, the mountains, the trees, the wide open spaces, the small towns with small shops and then more sky, mountains, trees and wide open spaces. So much space to breathe.
The four days passed slow and fast, a blur of pups running up to the truck as we came up the dirt road, the room that was ours, horseback rides up a mountain, off trails, curious cows and a horse that needed shoes. Riding in a rusted truck seatbelts off, the shooting of guns in an open field and nights on his friends’ porch. There was a night where he played and sang some of his songs while the puppy kept me warm, curled up on my lap, I could have stayed there for a very, very long time. There were chickens and pigs and talks of hay and curiosities about farm life answered. And that view, the big sky, mountains framed with trees, it held me attention completely.
It ended too soon, I would given a lot to stay just a few more days. I left with tears rolling down my face, kicking and screaming on the inside. I took a chance, I pushed my boundaries and regardless of the tears that may be in my eyes right now, I am very glad I did. It was everything I wanted it to be while it was. Montana and the man left some big shoes to fill.