It sounds corny, I suppose, but I believe that there’s a place for each of us. Call it destiny, fate, or providence—the innate magnetism in all of us that tells us where we fit in the world. Some people search a lifetime without ever feeling the quiet satisfaction of belonging. The variables are infinite, and when nothing feels right, the question of place can often seem like a cruel riddle. I am fortunate to have found my place long ago, here in Bozeman. And now, finally, I’m home.
It began as most relationships do, with infatuation. When I moved here a decade ago as a young man, I came for school, the mountains, and what they both might teach me. I was a prospector mining experiences, and never expected to stay, but Bozeman changed me.
Charging down Bridger’s Ridge taught me faith. An avalanche on Blackmore taught me caution. I learned about fear in a kayak and strength on an elk hunt. An armed rancher taught me not to trespass (even for trout), and a stranger in a blizzard taught me to help my neighbors. I learned about heartache from girls who let me down and trust from climbing partners who never would. In the mountains I learned about humility and mystery and friendship. Throughout it all, I learned who I wanted to be. Above all, Bozeman taught me about love.
There is a famous line, in a famous movie about fly-fishing and family and Montana—“I’ll never leave Montana, brother.” There was a time I felt the same; sure I could never leave. But then I met a woman and loved her more.
I spent four years away, tending to a career, a relationship, and the other competing elements that together make a life. These elements seemed to rotate in eccentric orbits—always moving, but rarely overlapping—like debris swirling in a cruel cosmic eddy: my job on the East Coast; my mate studying medicine in Colorado; my home in Bozeman. I could choose just one at a time. But now the bits of my life are somehow overlapping for a second time, and I don’t believe it’s by chance.
When I left Montana, a feeling settled like white noise hissing over an empty radio station. It wasn’t particularly dramatic or overpowering. It didn’t keep me up nights, or monopolize my days. It sometimes seemed like nothing at all. But this vague, disquieting itch lurked just beneath the surface, as inescapable as it was inconspicuous, crackling like soft soul static.
During short visits to Bozeman, the crackling quieted and all that remained was deep, satisfied silence: peace of mind in its most literal sense. I don’t need to name the reasons Bozeman compels me this way—you probably feel it, too. It’s the same for anyone who has found a place of their own. For me, it took leaving to understand how important a home can be.
Now, through a series of strange and wonderful accidents, we’re back. After a long and frustrating job search, during which we could have—should have—ended up anywhere but here, we returned to Bozeman. It was a homecoming as perfect as it was unlikely: fate brought us back. There is still much to learn.
There’s a place for each of us—a place where we belong—and for anyone reading this, we have at least this much in common: we belong in Bozeman. This is our home.