Well, I made it to the tiny, former gold mining town of Basin, Montana, for my Writer's Residency at the Montana Artists' Refuge. I'm here for an entire month, which means that I've got to accomplish big things in Big Sky Country.
The adventure began last night in Greenville, S.C., when at the last minute my Dad suggested I check my flight plan. Suddenly, Delta had me flying all the way to La Guardia in NY, and not arriving in Bozeman until 9 p.m.--which would've had me driving across the desolate West in the pitch. Needless to say, Dad the Hero jumped in, Stuart (the other hero) drove me to Charlotte at 4 a.m., and I caught a direct flight to Salt Lake. In Salt Lake I arrived with twenty minutes to spare between flights, and so I high-tailed it through the airport in my hiking shoes, leaving little children and groups of traveling football fans in my wake. When I got to my gate it had been switched to another, and so I ran (large backpack atop my small back) to the new gate, where I discovered that it had been changed again. I hoofed it up the escalator to another gate, past a group of men at a bar who were really getting a kick out of me by this point, and made it with a minute to spare. I was so exhausted on the flight to Bozeman that I slept through the complimentary beverage... doggone it.
Then, I got my wheels: Hertz decided that I'd surely have a sense of humor, and so they gave me a purple PT Cruiser. I'll spend the next month driving through the Rockies passing tough-guy trucks and horse trailers, looking like Dick Tracy on estrogen. But hey, it works.
Southwestern Montana is aflame with the high gold of Autumn, and yellow and orange trees cover the mountainsides in patches, sometimes interspersing with evergreens. There are rocks everywhere--and "beware of rockslides" signs at every milepost--and they stick up out of the ground like the tombstones of giants, cast haphazardly down hillsides and across fields. The evergreens grow up and out of these rocks defiantly, and I like that.
Basin is just off Highway 15, and my home for the next month is a high-ceilinged room in an old brick building once used somehow in the mining biz. I unloaded my groceries and tried to make it mine the first hour I was here. Now my shampoo's in the shower, my Clemson hat is hanging on a nail in the loft (despite our recent disaster at GA Tech), my travel candle is lit, and my photos are taped up on the wall behind my makeshift desk: Cal and John David on the night of their engagement, puppy-aged Scout and me on Black Balsalm, Mom and Dad all gussied up at Cal's wedding, Scout (again) in black and white, and Stuart and me on the deck of the Gulf Stream Restaurant at sunset.
Now, all I have to do is open myself up to this gift of time and place. To fight off longing for my husband and the pull of my own mercurial mind, and to write. To create. To decide that this is it--the writing life in the here and now.
Wish me luck!