Archive for Fort Peck

Maybe This Time

Adair,

It’s odd how January never seems like the new year to me. I’ve mentioned how my birthday is usually my marker for the beginning of a new year, both because July is a more optimistic time than the dead of winter, and it’s in line with my inflated ego to reorient the calendar around me. But there are other moments, my anniversary, the beginning of the school year, and Christmas that also make me pause and think about the year past and the year ahead.

If I had to look ahead right now, I’d be thinking about another year in New York. Another fall that just makes me feel like I’m in When Harry Met Sally, a winter that snows us in just once, a spring that begs for pictures in parks, and another summer sweating in the subway and longing for relief.

The next year is going to see a lot of new projects, and a push like never before to create things on my terms. Working with you has opened me up to working with other partners, and those relationships are beginning to blossom into new ventures that may well be “the project.”

Another year will bring another year of marriage and the wonderful joys and inevitable hurts of a life long partnership. We are also striving to create together, which brings us back to the army days of our friendship working together. This summer’s production of The Last Five Years reminded me of the importance of our creative connection and what beautiful richness that adds to our lives.

My apartment is changing layout and design, I’m changing my diet, having a car is changing our transportation, and the relationships in my life keep changing the creative means I have at my disposal. The next year is going to be one for the record books, no matter how it all turns out.

But why am I looking ahead in the middle of September? What marks this as a moment of reflection and resolve? I’m giving pause right now because in a year we won’t be writing these letters. At the end of this month, we will be finished with this project and moving on to another. I won’t begin to tackle what that means in this letter, but I know that whatever comes next, we’ll still be bothering each other about it every week.

Same time next year?

-Dan

Country Disappeared

Adair,

The drive from Billings, Montana to Fort Peck, Montana takes four and half hours, ¾ of a tank of gas, and a piece of your heart. U.S Highway 87 and State Highways 244, 200, and 24 take you the 264 miles up through the middle of the state by a route that makes a point of cutting through the land like a river, turning, rising, and falling with the land. The forested hills giving way to deep coulees acting more as traveling companions than obstacles to overcome. The use of demolition on the hills to make way for the highways has been minimal. The asphalt was freshly painted most places, the shoulder displayed shining reflectors, and the path out through the wild green yonder of Montana kept going in a way both natural and engineered.

This drive welcomed me back to Montana. This last month I’ve been back in our home state. I’ve been doing what I love, performing, with the one I love, my wife, in a place I love. I was “home” but not in my hometown or my college town. I was back where I came from doing what I do and I was having a great time.

I saw a lot of family and friends while I was in Montana. Some came to the show, and some were working with us at the theater. I had worked and lived in this town six years prior for one of my first professional gigs. And the show we were performing, The Last Five Years, was one I had been in before. This gave a familiarity to the whole experience. But something was different this time. Something has changed.

The first go around, Fort Peck was a hard job for me. I was the youngest employee of the company, I was under 21 and so I couldn’t participate in most of the social time outside of work, and some personality clashes made me feel pretty isolated. And, while there were some great moments and I made some friends, my experience kept me from seeing it for what it truly was. This time around I did not make that same mistake.

The land up there is complicated. The planes are an unnatural green for Montana. The hills have badlands hiding in them. And the water is like a sheet of blown glass. The whole area is both untouched by time (even sporting fossil caches) and completely mastered by man. The dam waters and the unspoiled planes intermingle in way that makes you think there could have been another future for this land.

My time back in Fort Peck was good for my career, my marriage and my sanity. The scenery informed my poetry and awakened stories that are screaming at me to be told. The company made me long to find more creative community in my life and to not lose touch with how the land we live on can affect our souls.

Missing Montana,

-Dan