As the summer begins to wrap up and back-to-school commercials start playing on TV, people start putting away summer toys, making one last trip to the lake, and begin shopping for new clothes for the approaching school year. For me on the other hand, this time of year now makes me think about the biggest gamble I have ever taken. Moving to North Dakota.
Two years ago (almost exactly) I was starting a 1,300 mile drive to North Dakota to begin a new chapter of my life. Making that decision to move to a place I had never lived before, in a part of the country I had never been before, and hundreds of miles away from any family or friends was one of the scariest, craziest, and best decisions I have made in my life thus far. I am not typically one to take huge risks in my life. I think things out, make rational decisions, and then rethink my decision to be 100% sure what I am doing is logical before I take any action. My family knows this about me, my friends know this about me, my coworkers know this about me. So this may be why when I announced I was moving to Fargo with my boyfriend, much of my family and friends thought I had gone insane. And to be honest, I wasn’t so sure I hadn’t myself. So even though I didn’t exactly have the blessings of everyone in my life, I loaded up a U-Haul, jammed stuff into my little car, and hit the road unsure of what lay ahead.
When I think back to that 1,300 mile drive, I thank God Blake didn’t dump me somewhere between Bozeman and Bismarck. Half the
time I was oozing excitement and the other half of the time I was alternating between fits of crying or yelling at the closest person to me… which in the middle of Montana happened to be Blake. And when he accidentally drove past the “Welcome to North Dakota” sign without stopping, which in my stress induced craziness I somehow took as a sign this trip was a big mistake and threatened to turn around and drive back to Washington, he calmly managed to give me a hug, turn the car around, and snap a photo by the sign without calling me the foul name I probably deserved.
People swear I know more random facts about North Dakota and have experienced more aspects of the state then the average North Dakotan who has lived here their entire life. The truth is, researching my new home and finding things to keep me occupied was what I credit to be the main way I lasted through the first few months here. It also helped that I was desperately trying to prove to whomever cared that North Dakota had way more to offer than just corn fields, snow, and a quirky movie, and that my move was not just a good decision but a great decision.
In my process to survive until Blake was done with school and then we could get the heck out of here and move home, a funny thing happened… North Dakota became my home. On top of that, more amazing things have happened in my life in the two years I’ve lived here than I ever could have predicted. And while maybe it could be credited to good timing, I think the main reason things have worked out so well is because North Dakota makes me happy and when you’re happy, good things happen. On top of that, the community truly has opened its arms to me and provided me with opportunities I never thought could
happen. I mean, I had an amazing first job working with amazing people that helped me get to know the community. Through my connections there I began to research graduate school at NDSU. When I got into the program I was able to teach. Through teaching I discovered my passion for working with college students which I plan to keep doing in some form after I graduate this year. Not to mention I’ve made some life long friends, been on some crazy adventures (went to a bar on a frozen lake, experienced ND wedding dances and a bachelorette party on a school bus, watched animals being birthed at the Minnesota State Fair, learned to drive in snow, experienced Sioux hockey, branded a cow, learned to make lefse, and took many trips to “the lake”), eaten life changing food (taco in a bag, fry bread taco, lefse, bars, rocky mountain oysters, and of course… hotdish), got engaged, learned new words (bars, wedding dance, personal attendant, ‘I suppose’, The Cities, and The Lake) and most importantly… had the opportunity to share my experiences through this blog which the community has embraced.
What I have learned from all of this is that if you don’t sometimes just take a leap of faith you can’t even imagine what you might miss out on.