For the first time in my life, I was free to think about where I wanted to live. I no longer needed an academic medical center nor television network headquarters. But because I still travel and have academic and board responsibilities, I knew I would need proximity to a good airport. So one Sunday afternoon, when the only noises I should have been able to hear were those of children playing outside, all I could hear were lawnmowers and leaf blowers and that was it. Princeton, NJ had been a great place to live and raise my children but now I was out of there.
I found my atlas of the United States and started scouring every page and then it hit me. I didn’t need to mentally wander the country. I knew where I wanted to be. I flipped the page and staring back at me was the map of the West and beyond that….Montana. It came down to two choices…Billings or Bozeman. Since Bozeman had a non-stop flight from Newark every day, that made the decision even easier. I drew a one-hour driving circle around Bozeman, flew out, rented a car and started exploring. Before I knew it I was taking a right on McLeod Street and parked at the Grand Hotel in Big Timber. I saw a notice in the window that a small ranch was for sale by owner and before I headed back to the East Coast, I had a handshake deal to buy this property, my new home, Thistle Creek Ranch.
It may seem crazy to want a simpler and more rural life in my late sixties. But as my daughter, Rachel, recently told me, “Mom, you are living your life, your authentic life.” She is right, it is authentic, exciting, challenging and exhilarating …..all part of reimagining one’s existence….something I will tackle in next week’s blog.