I was in Missoula, Montana this weekend, and now I am here to tell you some (of the many, many) things I like about that place.
1. First of all, coming into town there is this one billboard for Ruby’s Inn or Restaurant or something, that has been there at least since 2004, and while they must update it or the weather would weather it, Ruby never changes. She is still this sixty-something year old woman with hair of a red brown color that only comes in a box, and lips that match her name. The reason I don’t know what the billboard is for is because I get too distracted staring at her picture, wondering if I would be scared of her if I met her.
2. After I got off the freeway, the only car I passed on the way to my friends’ house was an ancient Subaru driven by a laughing young woman in a straw cowboy hat. This was midnight on a Friday in February. That about sums up Missoula.
3. However, it keeps being great. As I unload my car, Squinchy roams around the sidewalk off-leash, getting his snow-legs. A man comes walking down the middle of the street. People aren’t so big on sidewalks in Missoula, probably because the streets aren’t all so big on them either. Anyhow, Squinchy felt something was fishy about this fellow, and gave him the mean dog hackle bark treatment, which is more fearsome us people in the Squinchy Is Cute club might expect. In Seattle, I might have gotten a lecture, or at least a dose of dog-owner guilt, but not in Missoula. Instead, the man apologized to me. “My room mate’s dog does it too,” he tells me, and walks off unfazed into the night.
4. Here is the part about all of the awesome people I love who I see in Missoula, whether they live there or not. They cast a golden haze over that city that rivals its famous inversion.
5. Then there is the Orange St. Food Farm. I can’t put it into words. This is what grocery stores would be if we let them.
6. Biga Pizza.
7. The sausage and cherry pizza at Biga Pizza
8. The ricotta and pepper pizza at Biga Pizza
9. The crust of the pizza at Biga Pizza
10. How freight trains run right through town and how you can feel it in your body when they are coupling.
11. How the only thing you hear at night is the trains if they are passing and maybe the stove, or a lone truck on the interstate, and all around you are the mountains, holding you in the palm of their hand.
12. Shopping! And the delicious irony that of all my friends in all cities, it’s my environmental studies ladies in Missoula-Middle-of-the-Wilderness Montana who I love to shop with best. We shopped the heck out of that Hip Strip and you know it.
13. How every time I am there, there comes a time in the night when Bryan asks me, “So what will it take to get you to move back here?”
My answer, Bryan and anyone else who cares, is this: Love, some lush greenness, the gut-pull that says that’s where I need to be. Because that town has a lot going for it, that’s for sure.