A Life in Montana


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Wow, buddy. You’re nearly three and half years old. I sort of feel like you were two for only months, because you just seem so big and mature to me. You have no trace of babyhood on you anymore. Your pudgy cheeks have slimmed, and your body has no rolls of baby fat on it anymore. You’re so much longer, leaner, and older, and when I look at your pictures, I marvel at how much time has flown by. Your dad and I enjoy watching you play T-ball so much, and we’ve often looked at each other, shaken our heads, and silently thought, “Please stay small, River.”

Even as River grows bigger and bigger, I often am struck by how small he is when I think of the huge world around us. When he gets an owie, when he sleeps peacefully, and when he runs through the house naked after his bath — each moment reminds me that he’s still my baby, and always will be.

There are times when he gets somewhat confused about whether he is a big boy or still a baby boy. Sometimes he’ll say , “I’m not a baby! I’m a big boy!” It never matters to me, because I let him be either whenever he wants to. This is my first time being a mother, so each day is new to me — and I LOVE IT! He’s the most precious experience in my life, and I adore his fun personality, especially his humor. He sure knows how to test boundaries and his independence, and certainly lives up to the “threenager” label. Even though River is the center of my life, let me tell you about Montana.

So I have wanted to write about our life in Bozeman, Montana, but kept getting distracted by other things. It’s summertime, so things have slowed down a bit — and I now can sit and write. When I moved here in June 2015, people were astounded; after all, I’m a girl who comes from the Bronx. My husband, son, and I had been living in Philadelphia, but my son and I became very ill from mold in our place. We decided to travel northwest and see where the road took us.

We first went to my brother-in-law’s wedding in Boston. While there, Bozeman came to my mind out of nowhere, and I told my husband, “Let’s go to the Big Sky!” Malcolm’s jaw dropped; he is a Montana native, and had been longing to return to his beloved mountains where he was born and raised. So we went westward.

Today, I am convinced it’s the best decision we made. It’s been fantastic for River to explore, and to be exposed to country living. We also live close to my husband’s family, which is perfect given that River hasn’t started school yet. Everything fell into place for us when we found a cute place in downtown Bozeman.

What I love the most about living here is getting to know my husband and River better. We’ve grown closer everyday, especially on the many quiet nights when it’s just me and my husband sitting on the couch chatting. It’s unlike when back east, we socialized non-stop and went to so many parties and events. Being from the Big Apple, I’m naturally always on the go — and living in Bozeman has forced me to slow down. It’s brought me peace and simplicity in my life, and helped me change how I think and feel toward a lot of things.

One night Malcolm asked me, “Did you know River is the seventh generation of the Story family?” I said, “Yes, but please tell me a bedtime story!” Malcolm smiled and told the story of the Story family in Bozeman.

Malcom’s grandmother was Martha; Martha’s great-grandfather Nelson was the first in this lineage. While there are many tales*, my favorite is the romantic tale of the Story Mansion owned by Thomas Byron Story (Nelson’s son). My husband’s namesake and great-grandfather, Malcolm, grew up in the Story mansion until it was sold to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity at Montana State University. My husband’s grandfather, Douglas Drysdale, was part of the SAE fraternity — and proposed to Martha Story in a phone booth inside the Story mansion. That’s why my husband and I had our wedding rehearsal held at the mansion in 2013.

*To read more about the Story family, visit http://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/100/newsmakers/nelson-story-hero-scoundrel-legend/article_89773f86-268b-11e0-aca5-001cc4c002e0.html and https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Story

There are so many benefits to living in Montana, although it’s not without its drawbacks. The traffic here is pretty much nonexistent — people drive slower and are more cautious. It’s easy to get around, and distance is measured in minutes instead of hours. (Getting between towns is a different story, though.) The people are so friendly here, and the scenery here is breathtaking; concrete jungles have nothing on Montana’s mountains. The air is so pure and fresh here, and the food is amazing: Pickle Barrel, Mackenize River, Overeasy, Western Café, Montana Grill, and so many others. There are real fireworks here. And perhaps best of all, or at least for me, there is no sales tax!

The biggest drawback is that the Deaf community here is extremely small, and there are not many other children of deaf adults (CODAs) for our son to play with. Also, the here can be challenging, especially where there are 10 months of snow. Even so, the summers are majestic and more than make up for the snow.

I am so fortunate to have experienced both city and country living; I would never trade in my memories of playing jump rope with neighbors on the street in the Bronx, walking to the nearest candy shop, and having access to public transportation. But after living the Montana life, I think city living is certainly not as healthy, especially with pollution, city water (tap water in the country is so much better than city tap water), litter, and overall stress levels. The sky here is so expansive and the hills so extensive that it’s hard to think of things like pollution or diseases. There are so many pros and cons to both types of living, and I’d love to know what you like. Tell me the good, the bad, and everything in between, of where you live!

“I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love. And it’s difficult to analyze love when you’re in it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

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