I braced myself for the comment that usually comes after I say I’m a local, one of the few with roots in the area before the oil boom: “Wow, I’m sorry. What a sorry place to call home.” And it did come, sure enough. “Wow, I”m sorry,” the young man said sympathetically in the clinic waiting room while I was waiting for my weekly allergy shot.
I tried not to narrow my eyes at him. “Because I’m from here?” I was readying myself with an exposition extolling the beauty and peacefulness of North Dakota and its wide open spaces.
But then he surprised me. “No, because I bet it’s tough to watch such a beautiful place get taken over by the oil field. I’m from a small town myself, and I have to say, I would be pretty sad to watch all this happen to my town.”
I almost got tears in my eyes. I must have been tired. “Yes,” I said finally. “It is. But you take the good with the bad. I love it here anyway.”
I just can’t help myself. I love my home in North Dakota.
Is it just because it is “home”? Maybe. It is because I’m a girl just made for wide open spaces? Maybe. Is it because of the people? Surely that has something to do with it. It’s a whole bunch of things. I’ve never been able to make myself leave for good. After college, I watched friends move to cool places like New York City and Denver and Seattle and Arizona. I thought to myself, I should do that. I should move somewhere just to prove I can.
Then I thought, nah. What if I miss the summer sunsets?
What if I miss hunting season?
What if I miss the winter? I mean, real winter?
What if I miss lilacs in the spring? Do they have lilacs in Arizona?
What if I miss our annual camping trip at Lake Sakakawea? What if I miss my nephew’s birthday? What if I miss all of the hamburgers in the park on Saturday nights? What if I miss hiking in the badlands? Then the list got too long. The truth is, I love it here too much. I love many of the places I visit, too — I love the mountains, I love the coasts, I love Europe and Canada and the Bahamas and New York City. And I’m sure most of the people living in other places could write their own blogs about their own homes, and I’m glad. We should all have a place we love so much that we don’t want to leave. Maybe it’s home; maybe it’s somewhere else, but I think humans like to connect to places.
Next fall, actually, a brother and I are planning to go overseas to work in an orphanage for a while, providing everything falls together. I will write more about it later once I know more details. I’m very excited about our adventure. But when I’m done, I’m coming back home.
This week in Boomtown Diaries, I’m going to give a shout-out to my cousin Adam, who wrote a song that explains it perfectly and which is aptly titled “My Home in North Dakota.” We play it sometimes in Dwaylors shows and Adam always gets compliments. A while back, he and his brother Nick created a music video, which now has almost 50,000 hits on Youtube. That’s because it’s awesome. Here it is: