Wednesday, August 6, 2014

one year in Luverne.

Right on the heels of our one-year wedding anniversary comes our one-year Luverne anniversary. We closed on our house in Luverne just three days after we got married, so there was a lot going on at once. Whirlwind or not, both James and I were very happy to have a place to call home – especially a place that wasn’t a junky Sioux Falls apartment.

We chose to live in Luverne because it was the closest to halfway between our jobs – James works in Ellsworth, MN and I work in Sioux Falls, SD. Plus, you can get a lot more house for your money in Luverne than in Sioux Falls.
Helloooooo, Luverne!
Now that we’re wrapping up our first year as Luvernians (Luvernites?), I feel like I should share our impressions from the past twelve months. And you know how much I love to share my impressions.

The first thing that James and I discovered is that home ownership is equal parts awesome and suck. Allow me to explain.

  • Getting to paint the walls and hang up whatever we want – nail holes be damned.
  • Feeling important and grown up when there’s no longer an apartment number at the end of your address.
  • Much more space = easier to have people over. Hilarious pictures ensue.
    Hot Dog Night 2014.
Housewarming 2013.

Christmas Hangover 2013.
  • Much more space = less likely for James and I to get on each other’s’ nerves.
  • Grilling.
  • Drinking beer in the driveway while grilling.
  • Drinking beer on the lawn whenever you damn well please.
  • Planting a garden – no word yet on whether or not it will survive until next year.
  • Finally being able to have a pet, even though said pet is a cat who is kind of an asshole.
  •  We no longer share walls with our neighbors.
  • We have thirteen threes, two of which are apple trees – which means loads of apples ripe for the picking in our backyard.
  • Reaching another milestone on the long road to adulthood.
    Another milestone = hosting a holiday! Much easier with a house!
  • We had bats last summer, and it was terrifying.
  • The water pipe to the washing machine froze last year and gushed water all over the laundry room while I was home alone, and it was terrifying.
  • I actively dislike mowing the lawn and shoveling sidewalks. Did I mention we live on a gigantic corner lot?
  • We have thirteen trees, two of which are apple trees – which means loads of apples that fall on the ground and we spend hours picking up lest they rot and become super disgusting. Oh, and lots of raking.
  • Buying a house made me feel just a tiny bit trapped. Gone are the days when the world was there for the taking and we could live wherever we want.
  • Our house only has one bathroom. What were we thinking?
  • Our house only has one garage stall. What were we thinking?
And that’s just the house. Luverne itself has a similar awesome/suck ratio.

  • Living in Luverne makes us officially Minnesotans. Hooray!
  • Every year in July, Luverne hosts Hot Dog Night. Businesses in town grill hot dogs, and you can eat as many free hot dogs as your heart desires. They also have wiener dog races and beauty contests, plus a Wiener Man race: you have to eat a hot dog and drink a beer at every stop. Leave it to Minnesota.
  • Luverne has a drive-in movie theatre, which is perhaps the greatest thing ever. You pay five dollars for two movies, and it’s got a kick-ass concession stand.
  • Speaking of drive-ins, the other drive-in (the kind where you get ice cream and fried food) stays open March – October. In the drive-in world, that’s a hell of a long time.
  • The Blue Stem is in Luverne, and their food is to DIE for. I dream of their wonton nachos, their spinach and artichoke dip, and their raspberry margaritas. Also? They have rib-eyes for ONE DOLLAR PER OUNCE every Tuesday night – and that includes potatoes and asparagus. Be still my heart.
  • Smokey’s Pizza is also in Luverne, and they have the second best pizza I’ve ever had (first prize going to Pizza King in Brookings). Like Pizza King, Smokey’s uses big slices of mozzarella cheese instead of shreds. They also have tons of specials, including the Tuesday special: starting at 5 o’clock, when you call and order a medium one-topping pizza, the time you call is the price. So if you call at 5:02, your pizza will be $5.02. Small towns have the BEST specials.
  • I actually see my family MORE now that I have a house – even though I live further away. Since I live in a house that looks all cozy and homey versus a cramped apartment with stanky hallways, it’s a much more pleasant destination. My parents love road trips – especially when the weather is nice and they can take their Mustang. My brother was also a frequent guest this past winter when things were slow at work. I love having them around, and I love that they don’t mind the drive. (It helps that they really like Mona the cat.)
  • Living in Luverne makes us officially Minnesotans. Suddenly, everything costs more than it did when we were South Dakota residents.
  • While Luverne has a fairly robust population of 4900-ish people, its restaurant choices are fairly slim. Most of the eateries are closed on Sundays, and for fast food, you have but three options: McDonald’s, Taco John’s, and Subway. Yeesh.
  • Similarly, Luverne's entertainment choices leave something to be desired. When James and I lived in Minneapolis (and even Sioux Falls), we could head out and catch a movie matinee or live music pretty much whenever we wanted. It's not that easy in Luverne.
  • Luverne has killed our road trip spirit. When James and I lived in Sioux Falls, we’d zip around after work and on weekends and get all sorts of stuff done. James and I both commute to work – 20 minutes for him, 35 minutes for me – so the last thing we want to do on weekends is drive. We would also take many more road trips – even though James commuted 45 minutes when we lived in Sioux Falls, my commute was ten minutes, so I was the road-trip cheerleader. All it takes is one person with some enthusiasm, and a road trip seems much more appealing. These days, neither James nor I have the road trip spirit, so it’s a lot tougher to convince ourselves to pile in the car and drive to Minneapolis when driving is exactly what we’ve been doing all week long.
  • Did I mention that we spend a lot of money on gas?
  • We don’t know anybody here. Most of our neighbors are retired or have kids, so we don’t have a lot in common. We haven’t gone to many community events since we’re gone all the time, so it's been tough to meet anybody.
  • We don’t see our friends as often. Most of our friends live in Minneapolis (see: lack of road trip spirit) or Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is far enough so that it’s a pretty good effort for us to get there on a weekend, especially since I drive there at least five days a week already. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that we don’t see our friends due to complete lack of effort. It’s just that living so far away means that some planning has to be done in order to get together – and none of us are good planners. Gone are the days of the last minute “want to meet for a drink?” text message. I might still try it, but I can only wait around for so long for a response until I turn towards home – and if I’m already in Luverne by the time I get an answer, chances are I’m not turning around and driving back to Sioux Falls.
I didn’t mean to turn this blog post into a bunch of boo-hooing, but it just seems that way because I listed the awesome stuff first. Life in Luverne really is good – it’s just not perfect. And I need to learn not to expect it to be.

So here’s to another year in Luverne – tune in at this time next year for my two-year anniversary update! Or better yet, just come visit me and we can drink on the lawn!

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