Friends are fleeing the flock all around me. My core of Missoula friends, a few that I’ve known since childhood, are now finishing up college and looking – or just staring blankly – at the future. Some are searching for that elusive “real” job, while others are avoiding it at all costs. Either way, they’re looking to move on in some capacity. Here in the Flathead, my buddy Trusten, a talented musician and year-round sandal wearer, is taking off for the Windy City to pursue a music career.
My job-searching friends in Missoula are coming to a realization that I experienced more than a year ago: College gives you the keys to your future, fills up the gas tank and outlines a destination, but it doesn’t give you a very good map. Receiving a diploma for many is like getting a formal acknowledgment of how confusing life has suddenly become. I went through it when I was alternately couch surfing and job searching before Kellyn Brown approached me about the Beacon. College graduation can be as intimidating as it is invigorating.
For Trusten, unencumbered by the expectations of college graduation, moving to Chicago to extend his music career brings its own brand of worries and uncertainty, along with the excitement. Though I’m relatively new to the Flathead, it’s obvious to me that Trusten is leaving behind a very tight group of friends.
My group of friends in Missoula is similarly tight, and two years ago, during my final year at the University of Montana, five of us lived together for the first time. It was, in some ways, our last hoorah.
I did my best to orchestrate that year’s living arrangement, getting a hold of all four friends, scattered around the country, and bringing them under a single roof. Dylan had finished up his undergraduate degree in anthropology and was looking at grad schools. We talked about UM and a few months later he was my roommate. Adam retired from his college baseball career in Texas and moved into our Missoula abode. Justin was going to school in Bozeman and was finally persuaded to switch in-state loyalties. The final piece to the puzzle, Dave, already lived in Missoula and moved in right away.
I have known Justin, Adam and Dylan for most of my life and I spent much of my college life with Dave.
Justin and Dave are recent graduates, looking to use their respective international business and pre-medical backgrounds. Dylan will soon wrap up his master’s degree and Adam will follow shortly after with his bachelors in journalism. No doubt, when we step back from the whirlwind of these changing times, that last year will be viewed as a simpler time, when the most urgent need was a good map for our next road trip, not our next 20 years.
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