Today celebrates my two-week anniversary in Montana’s capital city (that would be Helena for all of you struggling to remember your fourth grade capital cities quiz).  I remember the cerebral inundation I experienced moving to NYC.  So much was new and strange and different and at mostly indiscernible.   I realized too late that never ever again would I be able to recreate my perspective from those first days, weeks, months, year living in New York.  Just like that, even the most bizarre sensory experiences registered as normal.  So, for fear of making the same mistake twice, and because it’s fun, I give you a new freshman’s take on Montana living.

  • People here are incredibly nice and it’s relaxing to feel so safe and taken care of by strangers.  Filling up my car (spoiler alert: I bought a car!!) for the first time proved to be a “it takes a village” moment as one woman kindly told me which side of the car my gas tank was on and my neighboring gas pumper helped me locate my tank opener button.  I literally let this man crawl inside of my car and felt no qualms about it.
  • For whatever reason, Montanans are big fans of the one-syllable name.  A sampling from my legislature crew: Mike, Brad, Jim, Dee, Pam, Bob, Chris, Dan.  Also, I think like half of the House of Representatives is named Tom.
  • Being new in a small city also has its disadvantages.  Apparently you can’t even sign up for a Safeway grocery card without the cashier noting that “you must be new in town.”
  • And, speaking of groceries, arugula (and other yuppy food I’ve grown to love) does not flow like water here as it does in NYC.
  • I think I’ve answered the question “How the heck did you end up here?” about 57 times this week.
  • Last night I spent $10.25 on three alcoholic beverages. With those prices I just may remain in a drunken haze for the next four months.
  • Most Montanans feel compelled to apologize for their state’s legislature.  To ease their worries, I assure them it can’t be any more ridiculous than New York or Texas’ governing body.
  • I have seen exactly one black person here thus far.
  • Last night I hung out with a crew of Republican staffers and got in a lively conversation about racism. So, hopefully that didn’t ruin all hopes of a social life.  I just can’t seem to help myself…
  • Only about one out of 7 people at my nearby coffee shop are on their laptops. Everyone else is actually in conversation or engaged with some type of non-electronic device…which leads me to believe that Helenites (Helenans? Hele..?) must be a more highly evolved species.
  • I have yet to go out on a week night and have found this lifestyle to be surprisingly enjoyable.
  • People in Helena are more liberal than I thought
  • …and less religious than I thought (well, actually, the jury is still out on this one.}
  • Montana, despite celebrating 126 years of statehood, has not yet been recognized by T-mobile as a data-eligible U.S. territory.
  • Breaking early is a really crucial element of driving in snow.

Here’s a pretty pic I took at the capitol dome:


And one from my walk on new year’s day:



One thought on “Montanan

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