Here I am, imagining that I am in Missoula which I think is in Montana. I have never been in, nor seen a picture of, this town, and am not even sure it exists or is in Montana, but I like to imagine I am there all the same as I like the sound of the name.
I am reading the New York Times Sunday Magazine. It is not what you are thinking. I am not reading it in protest against the arid existence I lead in Missoula, because I can imagine whatever I want to imagine, and I am imagining that I do not find Missoula to be arid at all. I find it peaceful.
We in Missoula seem wholly out of touch. People in the Times are enormously wealthy, or anticipate being so. Numerous trust companies want to manage their money. All these women are Nordic blonde with neat crows feet; husbands are politely grey and neatly trimmed.
They all seem to live in tall buildings in busy exciting cities, paying millions for condominiums smaller than the barn I have just imagined I have here on my ranch in Missoula. They allow their living rooms to be photographed but someone has come in and thrown away everything personal, and all the books and newspapers. Perhaps they do not even read, not even the Sunday Times.
Perhaps they do not read because they lost their eyes to cancer. Celebrity urban cancer stars, they are courted to recover in hospitals and treatment centers all around North American. Runaway cells have no chance, these people all will be saved, and it does not say so but I am sure, I will imagine, that if they have any chemical or radioactive treatments these people will not vomit.
No one of them drives a truck. All drive cars of quiet elegance. They have wanted cars like this all their lives I am sure I imagine. They have counted the hours until they could own one, counted them on a time piece that is not only not a watch but also is something they cannot own but only care for on behalf of the next generation that, I infer or imagine, similarly will find that ownership eludes them. Next generation will tell time only on their electronic personal devices and perhaps then the failure to be able to ever own a time piece will not seem so anomalous or harsh.
They are an unanchored crew, there is a column telling them what is ethical and what is not. They write letters to authors using perfect grammar and terse phrases. They have never imagined Missoula and, if they have, they have not imagined my Missoula, or the real one. They are locked beneath the surface glaze of the hard white paper that carries their inked DNA. Even now, they are headed for the roof top pool in the heart of the city.
I will imagine the fire flies are circling my barn in my Missoula, and excuse me if I must turn to the end of the New York Times Sunday Magazine and imagine that I can know both the characters in German operas and the county in which Missoula Montana resides so that I can complete the crossword puzzle in ink. I take a wild stab at the occupant of Grant’s tomb, it has five letters and appears to begin with a “G”.