Ruth Rudner
Ruth Rudner

David Muench's National Parks


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We arrived in Montana to find the garage door opener not working, the phone not working, the message machine not working, my computer not working. The phone got fixed the next day, the door opener just needed a new battery, the computer, too. The message machine took eight days to fix, not because it is complicated but because it is illogical, and because the company who made it said – after a 25 minute phone tree – that since it was more than two years old, I’d have to pay them $9.95 to talk to someone. I refused. Then the hot water heater quit, although we got it started again by the end of the day.

After the computer had been functioning for two days, the mouse – even with new batteries -- stopped working. I made the hour’s drive to Bozeman to take it into the shop where I expected them to show me what was wrong. By the time I arrived at the shop, I’d lost the mouse. It cost $70 to buy a new one.

And yet . . .

For so long in New Mexico, as we’ve planned the permanent move to Montana, I’ve felt overwhelmed by the work necessary to accomplish it. Part of that feeling came from knowing I have to let go of things I love, books, art work, furniture, clothes, dishes. There’s no space for most of it in this small Montana house.

What I forgot, was the house. I forgot that the house lacks nothing.

Montana Home

In the struggle to get here this year, I forgot many things that matter.

Expecting to make the permanent move in June, I was discombobulated when it became clear that wouldn’t happen. We wouldn’t even have the summer here. By leaving New Mexico in mid-September, we had only a month. It was as if Montana had become beside the point. Friends began questioning whether this was really what I wanted to do.

In fifth grade we read Sir Walter Scott’s “The Lay of The Last Minstrel.” Breathes there a man with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land.

Reading the poem made me wretched. I didn’t feel like that. I didn’t have a native land. I loved my parents, but there was something wrong with the place. How was it that no one else seemed to feel like that? What was missing in me? Was my soul actually dead? I didn’t understand – then – that home is not necessarily the place one is born. Home is the place that, when you come to it for the first time, you recognize it at once.

It’s what happened in the early ‘80s when I flew from New York to Montana to do a ski story. In the instant the front range of the Rockies came into view, I knew I would stay forever.

It’s just that sometimes forever gets interrupted.

When David and I married in 2001, we moved to New Mexico which I find culturally fascinating, artistically magnificent, physically beautiful. And wild. It has extraordinary wild country. By now I also have dear friends there. How could I not have some ambivalence?

Entering the perfection of my house, I understood there is nothing I need from the house in New Mexico. Maybe that’s another definition for home – the place where you don’t need anything you don’t have. (This is, of course, not entirely true. I need a working computer and hot water for a bath.) But it’s a fantasy that fascinates me. I like the simplicity of nothing extra, of knowing what I have and where to find it. I like this house and the rolling fields of the valley in which it sits. I like my view of early light on the Tobacco Root Mountains to the west. There was new snow on them when we arrived, a special Montana gesture saying – you are here.

Montana Mountains
(Photo Credit: David Muench)

Being here, I believe I can do the work to make the move.

Copyright © 2015 Ruth Rudner