The Only Thing That Calms Me Is Montana


I just don’t want to think about it anymore.

When I wake up thinking of your face or from some dream where you play a starring role, I pick up my phone and I Google Image Montana. Mountains and wildflowers and a sweep of sky. 

Last night I woke up with a start, clawing my way out of a dream you appeared in. A dream where we touched – by accident – and suddenly the room was on fire just the way it always was when we were together. I woke up shaking, slightly haunted, grasping at Awake and fearing the impending threat of Asleep. That was all it took: your face, the familiar vein and slope of your hands, your eyes meeting mine while you kissed another girl’s quiet pink mouth was a nightmare so terrifying I spent the earliest, darkest hours of the morning repeating silly, half-dazed mantras to lull me back into dreams empty of you.

I look up Billings and Big Sky and Bozeman. 

Each morning sounds the same – the metallic clash of teapot on stove burner. The click click click, the whoosh as the gas lights, the toothbrush and dripping faucet. My mornings never change, no matter the terror of my dreams the night before. But when your face is the focal point, the morning goes by in a deep, humid fog.

I search for parks and ranches and spas and forests, I look for Missoula, Helena, Butte. I reach for my reflection in the water of those photos. Montana is my sleeping pill. It calms the storms of my nightmares.

When I lived on the farm, I used to sit outside on the deck and watch the storms roll in, clouds heavy as curtains, bedsheets of rain. The grass would turn electric and I would too, a mix of awe and fear at its impending power and threat. When you’re young, you forget that a tornado can tear off the roof. Or you remember, and then you stay up all night watching the lightning flash wallpaper across your bedroom and praying that your roof stays shut. 

If I couldn’t fall back asleep, I would turn on the Weather Channel. I could see the weather in Nashville, in Oregon. A 400-acre fire in California, two soldiers killed by lightning in Kentucky. Monsoons. Mountains of snow, stalling traffic and spinning out cars.

But the voices on the screen are so calming, so steady, that in a sick way this bad news feels comforting, soothing. Weather is the most powerful force on earth, more powerful than the dreams and the nightmares and the shaky 4 AMs, the ones haunted by you even though I just pretend you don’t exist. Tornados and hurricanes and weighted, slippery snow can turn your tides way faster than a failed relationship. When you’re scared like that, all you can do is pray like hell.

I hope that girl knows she’s stealing my sleep.

The only thing that calms me is Montana. I know its wide open spaces and crystalline silences and piles of dense trees would welcome me, love me me, hold me in.

I would sleep in Montana.