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The Last Best Place

August 16, 2011

Today I’m leaving Missoula, Montana. It’s been quite an interesting summer here. When I first arrived here, I made a bucket list that included many things from “have huckleberry milkshakes” to “float the river” to “go to Canada” to “have a fling with a Montana boy.” Most of those things on the list didn’t get accomplished – due to time, lack of transportation, or my lazy roommate who never wanted to do anything. 

My little house on Benton Ave, filled with lots of good memories and drunken nights. I’ll miss it, even though the walls were paper thin and the dishwasher sucked. 

Despite failing to complete a summer bucket list, overall I have had a good summer. Regardless, I’m still ecstatic to leave Montana and come home. I don’t really fit in in Missoula because I’m different than most of these people. They are very open about  everything – from their money issues, to being homeless, to being in jail, to significant other drama, which they will tell you the first time they meet you. It’s a turn off when boys were hitting on me, then mentioned they had been in jail for 6 days because of a DUI. I’m much more reserved and keep lots of secrets. 

The view from my front yard. That’s the Bitterroot mountain range, which is part of the Rockies.

Another issue is clothing. No one ever dresses up, even for going out or for dinner in a nice restaurant. Some people wear their shlubby river clothes to the bar or hiking shorts and Chaco’s to the super nice tapas bar “The Silk Road.” I got a lot of weird stares for my outfits. One of the girls I worked with complimented my outfit, and then said, “We’ve never had a stylish intern before…”  Lazy roommate even complained about how sick she was of, “looking cute to go out.” There is a rationale behind that. When you look nice, you feel better about yourself and exude confidence. That makes other people want to talk to you/buy you drinks, which leads to a fun night. Most people here just don’t get it.

On the banks of the Clark Fork River, with Mount Sentinel in the background, which is the most hiked trail in the country.

Missoula is a great down if you are a student or raising a family, but it’s not really a good place if you are a 20 something career girl. There aren’t a lot of jobs, and most people are in different phases of their lives and busy with school or with their kids. There’s not a distinctive young professional scene here, like there is in Nashville, Chicago, or New York. It’s also ridiculously hard to make friends here, even more so when I don’t have much in common with a lot of the girls here. They prefer to spend the day on the river, I prefer thrifting and shopping all day. I like going to the river, but its only fun for me because I go there so sporadically. I can’t wait to go back to Nashville and get a job and hang out with my friends and lead a semi Sex and the City life. 

Deer in my backyard!

Spending a summer in Missoula was a great experience for me. I escaped the heat wave the encased the South for months, I got to experience the West, and get out of my comfort zone. I worked with some great people at my internship and learned a lot about marketing, nonprofits, CDFI’s, and Montana in general. I’m going to miss everyone I work with. On my last day of work, they surprised me with an Anthropologie gift card that I can’t wait to spend once I’m home!

The Big Sky State.

The college chapter of my life is over, and now the chapter of the first “post grad summer” is over. I’m ready to have my life in limbo for about 6 weeks or so frantically applying for jobs until I finally get something, and can move into my own apartment with friends to start the “20-something” chapter of my life.

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