A Reason to Stay

By Beacon Staff

“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”

I, too, am in love with Montana.

In some degree or fashion, that love has played an important hand throughout my life: in part, it sent me to Missoula from my hometown of Billings when it was time to choose a college; and when a job opportunity became available in the Flathead Valley upon graduation the lure of lake and mountains were never far from my mind.

I think it was as much the drive to my interview, as the interview itself, (though Kellyn would probably say it was his charm and professionalism) that convinced me to take this job: coming over Polson Hill for the first view of the lake – equally impressive no matter how many times I’ve seen it; winding along its shores in the shadow of the Mission Mountains. You say I’ll be covering four beats – county, healthcare, education and arts? No matter; I was already sold.

I admire my friends who have had the courage to move out-of-state, to unknown territory, as they begin their careers, but I’m not quite yet ready to leave. As this state changes and grows, there is still plenty for me to learn around here.

But as I begin this new job in the Flathead Valley, I depart from Steinbeck’s sentiment: my goal is to analyze what I love. To find the stories of Montana’s successes and to add constructively to the conversation of its failures. To meet the other people who call this valley home. And to learn as much as I can about what I love.

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