By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
I rarely tell people the name of my hometown. Instead, I find it is much easier to simply answer “Montana” when people ask where I’m from, rather than launching into a lengthy explanation of quaint Whitefish, Montanta and its proximity to Glacier National Park and Canada. At this point , I finally conclude lamely that I grew up in the Northwest corner of Montana. And yes, we do have a speed limit. In fact, the last time I rode a horse was 14 years ago at a fair.
At this point, the conversation usually grinds to a halt because few people know anything about my state. Not to mention my terrible attitude towards Montana has been exposed as I have most likely wrinkled my nose, emphatically vowed to never move back and laughed about how small the population is.
And that kind of attitude doesn’t have a whole lot to say for my character. Aside from the fact that many people I know and love, including my incredible parents, choose to live in Whitefish and probably don’t appreciate my belittling it, that town is also where I developed into the person I am today; it is part of my own history.
As someone who generally practices infallible optimism, I can’t help but wonder where those rose-colored glasses go when I talk about my hometown. When I peer deeper into my motives, I find a desperate effort to escape the stereotypes that accompany coming from a sparsely populated, rural state.
How tragic that my obvious distaste for all things Montana only further perpetuates those stereotypes and leaves me disparaging the very place that equipped me to succeed outside its borders.
The big joke is how often I repeat my mantra, “I just don’t belong there,” because I don’t particularly enjoying hiking, camping, fishing or skiing, I am a Montana girl at heart. I still have a shovel in my trunk that my dad bought me just in case my car got stuck in the obscene amounts of snow that accompany a Montana winter. I still wave to everyone I drive bywhen I visit my parents. I own more scarves than I know what to do with.
Montana is part of who I am, and I am determined to recognize and respect that from this point forward. If we can’t see where our quirks come from and embrace that, we’re not quite as confident in ourselves as we like to think. Those things about us that are unique-weird, even are often the most memorable.
So pity the next person who asks me where I’m from because not only is he or she going to get a detailed description of Whitefish’s location, but its allure as a ski resort town, its charming and old-fashioned downtown and its cheerily hippy-like attitude will follow.
If it snows in Abilene this winter, I’ll be prepared with my winter-driving experience, ability to quickly and easily cross icy patches and skill at bundling up to brave all manner of cold.
And I’ll proudly display that aptitude. After all, I’m from Montana.