Meeting a Fellow Expat

Today I met a woman from Montana. It was a beautiful moment.

My roommate Valerie’s mom was in town today because of the football game, and some of her friends, as they were in the neighborhood, stopped by our house to see her for a bit. We weren’t really expecting them (or at least I wasn’t), so it was a bit of a surprise when all the sudden three friendly, middle-aged ladies drinking wine in plastic cups stepped into our living room. Regular rays of sunshine, they laughed and admired the house, complimenting us on such a find and making appreciative remarks about our mismatched furniture. They talked about the terrible condition of their sons’ house (think nasty bathrooms). And, of course, they asked each of us about our majors and where we were from– a typical adult question.

The question came around to me, and, as always, I answered, “Montana.” After almost four years of telling people, I’ve gotten pretty used to the surprise and questioning (“What brought you all the way to Oklahoma?”) that comes after telling people where I am from. But this time, the reaction took me by surprise.

“No way. No way! NO WAY!”

I had been putting a couple paintings and matted photos into picture frames when I’d responded, so I was still looking down when the woman on the right responded so emphatically.

I looked up quickly, just in time to see her rushing across the room toward me.

I’m from Montana!” she exclaimed.

I stood up just in time to be enveloped in a giant, wine-smelling, rhinestone covered hug.

“Where in Montana are you from?” she asked.

“Billings.”

“I’m from Butte! I’m a Butte girl! I was a ____ (insert name of their high school cheerleading team… something like Blue Bells or Blue Bonnets)!”

This woman was crazy. And so much fun. I loved her. We talked about Butte and Glacier National Park and about living away from Montana (but always calling yourself a Montanan). And it’s funny, because while I barely knew this lovely lady, reminiscing about Montana with her was one of the best parts of my day.

It makes me laugh too, because I do wonder if that will be me in thirty-something years. I’ll be out and about in whatever random state or country I happen to be living in at the time, and I’ll stumble across someone from Montana. And regardless of all the turns and tumbles my life has taken, I’ll still be thrilled beyond reason to stop and talk for a few minutes with a fellow expatriate about our idilic upbringing in the mountains of Big Sky country (even if we never really appreciated them while we were there). Yup, that’s gonna be me.

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