Author Archive for C Hodges – Page 3

Dollar Dollar Bill Ya’ll

Dollar BillsDan is currently spending every last dime of his wedding money on a San Francisco honeymoon. Austin and I are pretty sure this whole “wedding” thing is an elaborate money laundering scheme, but our private detective hasn’t returned any calls.

Anyway, Dan will be back next week with an emotional post about his wedding. After that, we’ll start talking about the other aspects of our lives again. We’re almost there!

As always, thanks for your continued readership. We appreciate all of our readers, subscribers, and commenters – you really make this whole writing thing a wonderful experience.

– Clark and Austin

Day Late, Dollar Short

The days are are starting to get shorter, and the familiar chill of Autumn is sneaking through the windows of unsuspecting sleepers. Tonight, I’ll be using a blanket on top of my usual bed sheet.

That happened fast.

It feels like everything has been fast-forwarded. The wedding weekend will be talked about for years, but it already feels like it’s slipping through my fingers. It feels unfair. These are the memories I want to freeze and analyze, to view from different angles. I don’t want to forget the look on Dan’s face when he first saw his bride, or the smell of cigars by the bachelor party’s campfire, or the bitter taste of coffee the morning after the reception.

But time freezes for no man, and my memory has never been strong for details. I will have to relieve the wedding weekend through stories and photographs, remembering only snippets of first-hand experience.

For now, the most I can do is be thankful for what I have – my friends, my house, and the beautiful state I’ve called home for the last 25 years. I may not be able to remember every joke, every beautiful view, or every friend I’ve met – but I will always remember what it feels like to have a family. And that is more than enough for me.

Sharing is Caring

Sharing is hard, especially sharing something you consider irreplaceable.

Yet, as I pack my bags to watch Dan walk down the aisle, I’m realizing that I will soon be sharing something incredibly hard to find – a best friend and a good man.

I’ve known Daniel Crary for over four years, and lived with him for half of those. I’ve lost count of how many nights we stayed up late, lounging around in bath robes, eating quesadillas and granola bars. I could fill several notebooks with the skits, songs, and screenplays we conjured up after splitting a bottle of wine. The laughter we shared (and still share) was my main source of cardio for years. We had many adventures filled with youthful recklessness, where part of us still believed we were invincible.

Then there were the dark times – the snow drifts, the sick days, the heartaches. Our minds, much like our apartment, were cold, messy, and dark. We saw each other at our absolute worst, yet we still made an effort to pull pranks on one another, creating much-needed excuses to laugh.

Where many friendships would have fallen apart, Dan and I grew closer. We took the ugly, messy moments in our lives, and turned them into a mortar that binds us together. For that, I will always be thankful.

Fortunately, Dan and I still have plenty of years ahead of us. He’s marrying an old friend that I’ve always respected – someone who’s quick to jump in with her own stories or adventures. His bride is so radiant, even his darkest times will be full of hope. She’s the one person capable of making Dan feel invincible again.

Thank you so much, Courtney.

So when I move back in with Dan this October, I realize I will no longer be the first person Dan greets when he comes home, or the first person he calls when he gets a night off. I will have to share my best friend’s time, attention, and creativity. Our notebooks filled with ideas will become thinner, and our nightly talks will slowly turn into weekly talks.

As hard as these changes will be, I still can’t wipe this smile off my face.

Congratulations, Daniel Crary, you found someone so cool that I’m willing to share. I’m honored to be a part of your wedding, and I look forward to seeing you this weekend.

Your friend, creative partner, bird, and brother,

- Clark

P.S. Don’t expect the pranks to stop – she’s on my side.

Clear a Space

I’m a creature of habit, and living by myself for a year gave me complete freedom over these habits. In my old apartment, I sat in one of three places, left my glasses on the same end table, and put dirty dishes in the same place after every meal. My apartment was filled with loud music, and the television existed purely for video games. Nothing changed, and very few things surprised me.

All of that is quickly grinding to a halt.

Now that I’m living with my family, my office has been replaced with a couch and a small folding table in my parent’s living room. My floor speakers have been replaced with a single earbud, allowing me to respond to the random barrage of questions from my family. Music and podcasts have been replaced with the background buzz of television game shows. This is my life now.

Like Austin, I’m struggling to find a new flow in this old town. I want to retreat to my Missoula habits, but I no longer have the luxury. I’d retreat to my Billings-tailored habits from 5 years ago, but they carry all the baggage of a naive and lazy teenager.

So I guess I’m starting over. I need to find a way to push myself forward in a town that’s terrified of change – to find color in a town filled with white walls. I want to find new friends and adventures, while still visiting old friends and haunts.

I fear that by the time I find a new niche, it’ll be time to leave again.

But even if that’s the case, at least I’ll be leaving Billings with new friends, new memories, and new habits. Hopefully, the habits I develop over the following 1 1/2 months will lead to an even more productive lifestyle with an emphasis on relationships, physical health, and constant creation.

 At the end of the day, I want to leave Billings with a good taste in my mouth, ready to take on the Big Apple.

New Features – Subscribe and Share

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Much like our writers, www.goldinthemhills.net is growing and learning from its mistakes.

While the site looks about the same as when it launched, there are a few new features that have made their way into the sidebars and menus. For example, we now have an “Our Friends” section, which features some of our favorite bloggers. We also have a more detailed mission statement, and clear ways to contact individual writers.

Very recently, we added a way to share individual posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more. We really, really appreciate people sharing our stories, so we want it to be as simple and convenient as possible.

We also have a new way to Subscribe to Gold in them Hills and receive an email whenever a post is published (check the sidebar). Expect more subscription functionality in the near future. Eventually, we’d like to make the comment process more intuitive, allowing for multi-person discussions with minimal moderation.

But there’s still plenty of room for improvement, and we want our readers to be a part of the process. So we’ve added a Contact Form where you can send blog feedback, suggestions for new features, and links to potential Friends that share our interests. Please send us a message, and we’ll take your feedback into consideration when we add new features.

Thank you for your continued readership, and we’re looking forward to sharing more stories, guests, illustrations, and more!

- The “Gold in them Hills” Crew

Best Foot Forward

My last days in Missoula have been filled with boxes, bartering, and bleach rags. In order to make the trip to Billings, I’ve compacted my two bedroom apartment into two cars. In October, I’ll compact everything again to fit in two suitcases. This involves selling, donating, and throwing away a huge chunk of my personal belongings.

All of my speakers, dressers, couches, dishes, and tables now belong to someone else. Things that have been in my life for 4+ years. Things that hold memories of late-night laugh-fests, serious talks with loved ones, and hundreds of meals being cooked with roommates. It’s really weird, and I look at my now-empty house and feel disconnected.

This doesn’t feel like my house, and it certainly doesn’t feel like home.

Soon, I’ll be living in the house I grew up in – the house I call home. But I know, even with my parents and friends in the mix, I’m not going to feel at home for a long, long time. My things will be in boxes, my clothes will be in suitcases, my mind will be in NYC, and my heart will be in Missoula.

This is the path I’ve chosen to wander. It’s not fun, it’s not easy, I’m constantly fighting back tears, but at least my feet are moving. And as long as that’s the case, I think I just might be okay.

- Clark

Spare Parts

As I start to put my life in boxes, I’m finding lots of small items that don’t  fit into the typical “kitchen, bedroom, studio” categories. Do sponges go with my cleaning supplies or painting supplies? Do hand towels go with clothes or kitchen supplies? I’m starting to feel like a sorting hat in a room full of monkeys.

Out of all the decisions I’ve made recently, these seem frivolous, yet they still make me anxious. There’s no “right” way to pack, but there seems to be a hundred “wrong” ways. No matter what I do, I know I’ll end up with a box simply labeled “spare parts”.

I can’t help but wonder if this habit reflects how I’m currently dealing with my emotions. Leaving Missoula has brought many new feelings into my life. Discomfort, homesickness, and a sense of loss have entered my mind, and I have no idea what to do with them. So I’m stowing them away in random corners of my mind, promising myself that I’ll deal with them eventually.

But like my box of spare parts, these stowed emotions are a constant reminder that I have messy areas in my life, and they’re not going away on their own. Someday soon, I’ll have to work through the discomfort, through the loss of friends, through my desire to return to a comfortable life. It’s going to be really difficult, but it’s necessary to move forward.

Thankfully, I don’t need to sort out those emotions until my car is on I-90 headed home.  Until then, I pack, I clean, I apply for jobs. I will do what’s necessary to have a successful transition. I only hope that, at the end of the day, I labeled everything correctly.

Objectified

With just over two weeks left in Missoula, the time has come to sell and donate most of my possessions. While I have two vehicles to take everything from Missoula to Billings, I only have two suitcases to fill for NYC.

Everything must go.

This is an entirely new situation for me, and I’m not sure how to feel about it. On one hand, I’m excited to remove the excess in my life that has accumulated over the last 7 years. On the other hand, I feel like everything that survived through the years deserves a reverence far exceeding the Goodwill donation bin. I have gadgets, office supplies, and half-finished paintings that shared my space for years, hoping to someday serve a purpose. They act as a hall of fame for well-intentioned beginnings – a shrine for projects that only inspired me for a week or two.

It’s time to admit to myself that these projects will never bear fruit. This is a hard realization to face, but decisions need to be made. What stays? What goes? Simple questions with complicated answers.

Yet amidst the chaos of decision making, I find myself with a second beating heart, one that tells me to look forward instead of backward – to shed my old skin so I can grow even larger. This second heart is stubborn, yet I find it comfort in its authority. I will part with my projects because there are better projects. I will part with my objects because they are replaceable. I will make my decisions because I have a deadline.

It’s time to break the cycle of “maybe tomorrow”s, because I can no longer afford the mental taxation. I’m beginning to feel warmth from the fires of refinement, and I must keep moving forward.

Farsighted

My friend Lacey recently posted a poem on her blog. I thought it was wonderful, so I stole the format and made my own. 

Hers: http://laclynne.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/3-24-14/

Mine: 

“…The heavens have painted
have brushed you with angel wings.
And you know in your heart
that the farsighted see better things…”

I have yet to find a co-pilot. One that doesn’t need to talk the whole time. One who has the track list written on her heart, the lyrics etched into her bones like the trails of a termite. Someone who values the silence between tracks, knowing each second tells an important story. One who sees the road as an old friend that won’t judge you for opening another bag of trail mix and washing it down with a third cup of coffee. Someone who understands that singing Backstreet Boys doesn’t have to be ironic, and it’s okay to forget the words and drum along on the steering column.

I have yet to find a co-pilot. One that believes mountains weren’t meant to be climbed in one day, and sees each wildflower as a study in color. She finds solace in the promise of eternity, knowing that we can’t see everything in one lifetime, so we may as well stop to make crowns from dandelion stems.

I have yet to find a co-pilot. Someone who doesn’t view relationships as trivia, where every detail must be extracted and memorized in as little time as possible. Someone who is content with hearing half of a story, knowing that the end isn’t always as important as the beginning. One who sees arguments as stepping stones, each one bringing us closer to one another’s eye level. One who realizes that my loyalty runs deeper than any miscommunication, I am far quicker to forgive than I am to anger. She knows that I am a stone, unmoved by the winds of temperament, unshaken by the tides of uncertainty.

I have yet to find a co-pilot. One who sees me as a shelter, a place to spread out maps along the Path of Truth. Someone who doesn’t dig recklessly for my secrets, but lulls them out with the warmth and constancy of a sunbeam. Someone who knows that I literally stop to smell the roses, and isn’t offended when my attention is pulled away by a lilac bush or hummingbird.

I have yet to find a co-pilot. Someone who views sleepiness as the ultimate excuse for silliness. One who forgets certain words after midnight, creating new amalgamations to take their place. One who denies her tiredness as she sinks further into the cushions, welcoming the blanket when it’s pulled around her collarbone.

I have yet to find a co-pilot. One who removes her makeup, not to spare the linens, but to invite vulnerability into the household. Someone who knows I look forward to the day when crow’s feet nest along my eyelids and smile lines carve into my jaw like rivulets. Someone who realizes that I see people’s flaws as salt upon a caramel, offering contrast and balance that reveals more of their inherent sweetness.

I have yet to find a co-pilot. One that speaks with her sighs and sings with her eyes. One whose freckles tell stories older than herself. One who doesn’t mind when my fingers run along her jawline, memorizing every curve and inlet so not even blindness can rob me of her beauty. One who knows that I’m closing my eyes not to escape, but to lose myself in her scent, to hear the timbre of each breath as our diaphragms push and pull to match each others’ cadence.

I am looking for my co-pilot.

Until then, I have my cookbooks, my headphones, my bathrobe, my coffee, and my eyes aimed towards the mountains.

One Giant Leap

When I first arrived in Missoula in 2009, I was a fresh faced kiddo filled with optimism and a strong sense of entitlement. I had just come out of a particularly rough patch in my life, and I was no longer proud of the reputation I had gained in my home city of Billings. I saw Missoula as a way to start things over with a clean slate, and get a taste of the “real” college experience I wanted so badly.

But after five years, six apartments, four jobs, three heartbreaks, and two friends lost to suicide, my worldview has changed.

I no longer feel that the world owes me something, I’m not a special snowflake that’s more valuable than anybody else. I’m learning to be thankful for the blessings I have received, and to share them with others instead of hiding them away. I’ve learned to stop shoving my opinions down people’s throats, because I usually don’t understand the full context behind any given situation.

With these lessons in mind, it’s time for me to bid farewell to Missoula. July will be my last month in this beautiful city before I move back to Billings. After a couple months there, I’m moving to New York City to join Dan and his wonderful wife.

Why New York? That’s a good question, and the answer isn’t as simple as a job title or a blank slate. I’m going to New York City to up the stakes on a risk-averse life. I’m going to New York to, in the words of Scott Snyder, be “burned down to the purest core, the purest hero that you know is inside you”. 

My current life, while full of great moments and people, is incredibly safe and predictable. It’s time for me to find out how far I can fly without a net. I may end up working as a web designer, a journalist, a barista, or a caterer, but at the end of the day I’ll be learning how to work with conviction and diligence instead of entitlement and attitude.

There will be a day when I long for comfort and predictability, but today is not that day. Today, I long for adventure.

With that, I bid farewell to this town, and to my friends that have filled my life with such happiness. Goodbye to the big skies that have hung over me for so many years, and the familiar sights and smells that have greeted me each morning. I’ll be back to visit Montana in the future, but for now I want to fill my last few months with as much thankfulness and celebration as possible. So here’s to the nights we felt alive, they really have been something.