Anywhere But Missoula, MT


If you had asked me in college where I would live when I “settled down” (is that what has happened? I have settled? Like a flat cake? Like an upset stomach? Yikes.) I would have said this, “Anywhere but Missoula, MT.”

Missoula 1977

I was born here. I went to Willard Elementary School (yeah, Wolverines!) I moved away in the fourth grade, to Alaska. To an abandoned mink farm where my new stepfather had made a homestead. To no electricity or running water. To an outhouse. To fishing boats and fishermen. To an entirely different life than I would have ever had if I had stayed in Missoula.

My biological dad stayed here. He taught at Sentinel High School for 33 years, most of you know him as Mr G. My sister and I came for summers and Christmas, but increasingly home was Alaska and Montana was vacation and a respite of electricity and MTV and the pop culture that sped right past us.

Missoula became a been-there-done-that kind of place for me.

I started working and Camp Mak-A-Dream during college and met a guy. More to the point, I met THE guy and of course he was a student at the U. So I started driving to Missoula from Bellingham. A lot. And I started to see a new side of this town through the eyes of all of the students who come here from big cities, the Midwest and the like. They came here for reasons I had never seen growing up around this valley.

The Creek. Missoula 2007

Even when I moved here it was temporary. Just while he finished school, we said. But then life hit us. Hard. Harder than it is supposed to when you are twenty five. And so we have stayed. At first we stayed because we were too poor, sick or tired to leave.

And now we stay because of the life infrastructure that built up around us during that hard time. The friends. The family. The niches we have created. The kids that came and took our roots and ran them way, way down into the rocky soil of Missoula.

We stay because of the way Mt Jumbo turns orange above our house in the evenings. We stay because Rattlesnake Creek is raising our muddy, rock throwing, sweet sons into people who can find joy in simple things. We stay because it is easy, but not in a lazy kind of way. We stay because it is Missoula, MT. Back to Elke’s Blog home page.


Bio: Elke Govertsen is the publisher of Mamalode which is a magazine and website for area moms. When not juggling her family, business, and the laundry (disclosure – there is no laundry being done whatsoever) Elke tries to eek out time to write, do yoga, and read like a fiend.