Saturday, October 10, 2015

happy anniversary: year four!

It’s that time of year again: the blog anniversary!

For the last four years (on the nose: I started this blog on October 10, 2011), I’ve been writing this blog. As you may recall from the other anniversary posts I’ve written, I started this blog on my very first paid holiday from my very first job with benefits. (I’d had legions of other jobs, but I had never experienced anything as magical as paid holidays and actual insurance.) However, I had moved to Sioux Falls from Minneapolis and was experiencing a significant amount of “OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE” anxiety.

You see, I loved Minneapolis dearly. I loved the food and the lakes and the trails and the museums and the buildings. But I was alone.

I had been living in Minneapolis since January 2010 when my then-boyfriend-now-husband James and I moved into a garage-turned-studio apartment so he could do his student teaching and I could complete an internship at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Enter a long, hard winter of abject poverty and multiple minimum wage jobs. Come summer, my unpaid internship was done, and I had secured full-time work and was able to get rid of all but one of my part-time jobs. James was a licensed band and music teacher and was on the hunt for a job of his own.

And he got one!

Four hours away from Minneapolis.

In July, we had signed a one-year lease on an apartment near the Nicollet Mall, so there was no financial way that both of us could move to southwestern Minnesota. Besides, I needed a job, and I wasn’t about to head to Ellsworth without one. I declared that I would stay in Minneapolis while James went to his job in Ellsworth, and we’d see each other on the weekends.

We did that for a year, and it was terrible.

At the end of year one in Ellsworth, James was hooked. He had fallen in love with his tiny school, and there was no way that he was ready to leave it and look for a job closer to the cities. (Fun fact: he feels the same way about his job in Ellsworth to this day.) After a year of living in Minneapolis – four hours from James, four hours from my family, four hours from most of my friends – I was tired of being alone. Plus, my aforementioned full-time job was weird as hell, and I was ready for something new. I applied to jobs in both Minneapolis and Sioux Falls, telling myself that whichever place gave me a job first was where I’d be.

Shocker: it was Sioux Falls.

James was overjoyed. My parents were overjoyed. I was unsure.

Yes, how awesome it would be to be closer to them! But that meant leaving Minneapolis, a city that I adored, for Sioux Falls – a city that was pretty ok, but was hardly comparable to Minneapolis.

I lived in Sioux Falls for that first year, and James lived in Ellsworth – we were still an hour apart, which was still terrible. James moved to Sioux Falls the next year, and I worried about his commute every single day. The year after that was when we got married and bought a house in Luverne, Minnesota. And here we are.

So a lot has changed since I first started writing this blog.

I am a fan of lists, so here’s the big stuff that has changed:

September 2011: got job at the Department of Labor and moved to Sioux Falls
October 2011: started this blog
February 2012: got a job at the library
June 2012: James proposed
August 2012: James moved to Sioux Falls
July 2013: got married
July 2013: bought a house and moved to Luverne
September 2013: adopted an asshole cat named Mona

Yes, our last major life event was two years ago, but we got a whole lot of life events out of the way in 2013. In the meantime, we’ve taken lots of road trips and done some ridiculous/awesome things like buy kayaks. We’ve spent tons of time at Lake Poinsett, and I’m a volunteer librarian for the Ellsworth School. Yes, we’ve done a ton of stuff… but we both miss Minneapolis like crazy.

I never meant for this blog to be a sounding board out into the internet for me and my feelings. I hate feelings. So the anniversary blog post is one of the few times you’ll hear me do it.

Four years into living in the Sioux Falls area, and I’m still not quite sold – especially now that we live in small town Minnesota. Luverne has a population of about 4700, which is the same size as the town where James and I went to college, but Luverne and Morris may as well be on different planets. Luverne is no college town: it’s a typical conservative small town Midwestern area where your retired neighbors spy on you and punk kids steal your lawn flamingoes and all the apples from your trees.

As a small town, Luverne is also short on restaurants, shops, and things to do. A few new stores have moved in downtown, which is a godsend. But the lone coffee shop has weird hours, and God help you if you want to get anything done on a Sunday.

James is made for small town USA. He loves to small talk and share recipes. When he retires, he’ll be one of those little old men that hangs out at the gas station/legion/café all day and drinks coffee. I, on the other hand, am not at all that way. Having grown up right outside of a small town and having gone to school in one, I’ve gotten my fill. Small talk is not my forte, and I have no recipes to share. And since we are not retired and have no children, we have virtually nothing in common with most of the Luverne population.

Here are the things that keep us in the area (in no order of importance):

  • my library job, where I get to do cool things like choose books and music for the collection
  • James’s Ellsworth teaching job, which he loves more than life itself
  • my family
  • our friends

So jobs and people, basically. We’re also afraid that our house would never ever sell, as few people are itching to move to Luverne. (Believe it or not.)

Don’t get me wrong: Luverne has its positives. They have some good small-town things, like a library book sale and cute little parks. You can ride your bike and take nighttime walks without worry. You can buy a nice house for a pittance – and that nice house comes with apple trees.

All that is good and well when you are a small town person.

Which I am not.

So please forgive me for this little pity party, but I see the blog anniversary as a time for reflection. Though I am not making it sound this way, but the good really does outweigh the bad. It’s just my whiny wanderlust that makes me itchy at the idea of settling in Luverne.

Life is good. I have a great job, I’m close to my family, and I’m married to the best guy ever. We have a cute house and a fluffy asshole cat, and we have great friends in the area. We have cars that work and can put food on the table and can go on vacations. I really don’t have much to complain about.

But enough of that and back to the blog. Life has gotten weirdly busy, so I haven’t been able to write as much as I would like. I started off writing two stories a week, which is feasible when you a.) live alone, and b.) are broke and can’t afford to do anything else. Thankfully, both of those things have changed. I am down to writing about one story every week or couple of weeks, and I apologize that I can’t do more at the moment. But never fear! I have lots of stories left to tell as long as you still want to read them.

As always, thank you for reading and sticking with me in my little corner of the internet. You guys are truly the best.

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