As a child, my favorite movie was The Wizard of Oz. I watched it over and over and over. I knew every line, sang the songs (and still do to my daughter), and reenacted parts in play. The movie has always struck me; as a child with the wonder of the Land of Oz, as a college student with its dreamlike quality watching the movie but listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, and as an adult with its beauty and insight.
The scene in the movie that stayed with me since childhood is at the end when Dorothy desperately wants to get home and as the Wizard is just about to take her; she jumps out of the hot air balloon basket to get Toto and the Wizard floats away. I felt sadness for her in that moment and wanted her to be able to go home. Luckily, the good witch shows her the way that was always within her and all is well. In that scene, I felt sadness for Dorothy but also wonder and mystery at the Wizard’s hot air balloon; it always mesmerized me. From those first days seeing the movie as a child, I wanted to fly in a hot air balloon.
Home from Montana’s open space, I feel the vacation blues settle in. The trip was amazing even after the literal and metaphorical rocky start that I previously wrote about here when I considered clicking my heels to go home. There were moments of frustration, disorder and confusion as to be expected with small children. One day on our trip, my daughter said “its reality” when my husband and I sighed and stared at each other to see who would give in and change my son’s poopy diaper. The ups and downs are reality but the overall feeling I brought home from our trip was content.
The smells, sounds, and feel of Montana were infectious and I felt like I may belong there. Everybody loved being outdoors without sweating profusely and smacking mosquitos every five minutes as we do in the thick of summer at home. The bubbling sounds of the creek, the gentle breezes and on our last night, the slow raindrops on our tent’s roof helped us to slow down and just listen. We played with sticks, wandered freely and saw wildlife daily.
We spent time hiking, rafting, listening, relaxing, shooting bows with arrows, watching deer, horses and cattle roam, and I fulfilled my dream of riding in a hot air balloon. Riding high in the hot air balloon was everything and more I imagined it would be. It was liberating and beautiful to float high in the air. We saw deer running below us, the river running smoothly and mountains all around. I felt small but connected; vulnerable but safe.
Opposite of Dorothy, I did not want the balloon to take me home. Home represented work, stress, heat and familiarity. I wanted to stay in the new land and explore it. I wanted to hold it in my hand and not let go. But, as with Dorothy, we had to let it go. And we returned home.
The morning after our return I felt blue and wished I was doing anything but unpacking and settling back in but I also felt different. I realized that I was not letting my normal stress and “to dos” get to me. I was breathing easy, not rushing and the tension that usually tightens my shoulders felt miraculously melted away. Maybe Montana helped me to reconnect to myself and I desperately want to maintain that connection.
The Wizard floating away did not take away Dorothy’s chance to get home and leaving Montana did not take away my peace.
Of the many lessons Montana taught me, I believe the most important one is “there is no place like home” when you find it within yourself.