Being in a different culture

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

I can remember the big move to Montana in 1998. It took place in August right after The Spice Girls had came to town for a concert. Then not too long later school had started the following week.

Living in Montana is different than living in a city and it depends on where you live. It was a fortunate we lived near Missoula but we still lived in a town of 1,500. Things are like isolated in Montana and everything is so open and it’s not uncommon to drive forty miles to eat at a good restaurant or drive 11 miles just to shop at Safeway or to go to Wal Mart or even drive a few hours to go to some decent stores. But where we lived, it was only an hour drive and we went about once or twice a month. But anyway, life was way different in town than in the city. Kids spoke with poor grammar, my mom kept being asked if she had been to a party because of the way she is dressed. In the town we lived in, no one dressed nicely. Mom forbidden her children using poor grammar because she didn’t want it to become a habit and then we move out of town and then we come off as not bright because we are using poor grammar. “Ain’t” was a common word there.

Also there were families that would kick their kids out after high school because they were adults now, a teen arguing with their parents and being a little snotty was out of control teen behavior so they would be kicked out too  so my mom would have kids at her house hanging out there because they were kicked out of their homes by their parents because of normal teen issues which their parents saw as out of control and psychopathic so they didn’t want them around. Also verbal abuse was common there and kids were treated like their thoughts didn’t matter so we were the strange family in town. ids would tell my parents what they were doing wasn’t normal. They were used to being screamed at and called named and treated like their thoughts and feelings didn’t matter so they were not used to the kindness and being listened to and not being screamed at and kicked out for a mistake so there for that was not normal what my parents were doing. I am sure not all families were like this, these were just kids my parents knew who came from these families who were friends with my brothers.


Now for the ignorance, kids in my school couldn’t wait until they were 18 to go to Las veges to gamble. One kid thought you could get to the other side of Montana to the state border in two hours and kids thought Missoula was a major city or Helena so I can remember being in US History at 17 and we had to write a fake letter talking about life in the city and our teacher had to tell the whole class that Missoula didn’t count or Helena and she started to write city names on the board that were big cities back in the 1920’s. I could not believe the ignorance and my mom said it was because these kids had never been out of state or ever been anywhere and she even knew some who never went to Missoula and she knew some people at work who had never been to Glacier Park and it was only a two hour drive from where we were. There was one boy who thought driving across Montana was like driving all the way to New York City and my mom said he had probably never been out of state. But I was still baffled because New York is past Montana so how could he have thought that?

Also people don’t really eat out or do anything fancy so we lack lot of restaurants and when Krispy Kreme opened in Missoula, it was packed and people were wild about it but it shut down in less than a year because people had their fun there and then were done with it because they didn’t have the money to keep going there.

Wages are so low in Montana it’s expensive to live there even though rent is low and everything else but food and gas is more expensive because it has to be shipped there. there is no way my husband and I would be able to live there or else we would be poor and probably be struggling and we might be on section 8 and living on WIC and foodstamps and Health Montana and we would not be able to do much at all because it would all be going to gas. You have to practically drive everywhere because places are so spread apart and there is no public transportation. Missoula and Kalispell have it but it’s not very reliable and I don’t see the buses there ever. The only closest city there that is like major and where you can find real places to eat at is Spokane, Washington which is a three hour drive from where we lived. We even had to drive an hour to get to a mall that was a real mall which was Missoula and for years that mall was never updated because the floor was so 1980’s and they said it had been updated before we moved there.

There is also no Toys R Us in Montana but yet they have a Costco.

But Montana is pretty much an outdoor state and Missoula is pretty much with casual dining and casual stores, nothing really fun to do there but riding that Carosual and playing on the nice playground there in downtown, and climbing up to the big M on the hill at the Montana state university and there is Fort Missoula which is on the other side of town. They put a water park there now and an indoor one but they did that after I moved because it wasnIt there when I lived there.

But lot of people were big on hunting there and we didn’t have security points in our high school to screen for weapons. It was a small town and isolated so they were not worried about a school shooting happening there. Also because the town was so small, the middle school and high school shared the same gym, same lunch room, same auditorium, same band room, same choir room, same art class, same cooking class, smae Spanish class, and all the kids from elementary school, middle school, and high school all rode on the same bus at the same time and the middle school and high school started at the same time and the elementary schools started at eight, a half our early then the middle school and high school and the school district were a district for two towns so we had two elementary schools and one middle school and one high school and we shared the same track field but the only thing we couldn’t share was the playground, that was for middle school only. But with the new playground equipment now for middle school, the high school kids like it so they play on it and the school principal lets them. He is more laid back and doesn’t enforce that rule. That is what my school aide told me when I saw her two summers ago. The middle school and high school also share the same tennis courts but yet we have our own school building but we share. Even the ISS room is used for all schools so the elementary school kids have to come to the middle school to do their time there.

Also foster kids were common in my school so we would get new kids and they would be gone a few weeks later and because so many news ones would come by, I don’t even remember them all and also it was common for kids to be in the resource room so I felt normal. It took me a while to get used to this new culture and everyone there used hot lunch, no cold lunch so I looked strange bringing my own lunch to school so we all stopped and my parents started to pay for our school lunch because it was actually cheaper than bringing a lunch to school. Also no one dressed yup for dances, they only did for prom and all the high school grades attended prom and you didn’t need a date to go.

Where we lived in Montana, there was no such thing as Blockbuster or renting video games, they only had a small selection of them, and there was no such thing as other fast food restaurants, we only had McDonalds and there was no such thing as Dominos Pizza, we only had Pizza Hut which was 11 miles away and too expensive for delivery so we had Stageline or Murph’s Pizza, the only two local pizza places in town. We did have A&W but that was also 11 miles away and we did have a Dairy Queen in town which stayed open all year around. We also had a subway in town. I just had to get used to local businesses than chain places. Lot of places were all local businesses and we didn’t have much chain places but that is Montana for you. Want Wendy’s, drive an hour, want Burger King, drive an hour, want K Mart, drive an hour, want target, same, want Best Buy, same, want to go to a real movie theater, same, want block buster, same, want to go to a good mall, same. This was what life was like living in Montana for us.

Now it’s even worse because the town we lived in is pretty much dead and the other town 11 miles away is better and all the businesses are going there and they have grown and built a swimming center and a Super Wal Mart and they have a gaming store now. So people have to pretty much drive 11 miles now. But at least the city library is still there and that one thrift store but everything else was closed. They were vacant and the bowling alley was still there and the one screen movie theater and the local grocery store and the pharmacy and McDonalds and the car sale place and auto shops. It’s just main street that is dead. My mom told me they had a bunch of good stores there when I was a baby and now it’s all dead. My husband and I were walking and I realized lot of the buildings were vacant but had left the business names on them. Even the video store was gone and then it was the dollar store ran by the same owner and then she closed it.



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