Moving is good for the soul. I'm convinced of it. We all could use a bit of picking up and dusting off of our cultural sensibilities once in a while. Now that we've arrived here and are starting to settle in, I'm discovering just how long it's been since I've had a little cultural shakeup in my life.
I went to college in North Carolina. I had moved there from New York, about an hour north of NYC. I made a friend in my first couple of weeks down south; her name was Lynn. She'd moved a year or two earlier from Los Angeles. She told me about her own first few days in the state--how every evening for a week the lead news story was the kid on the overpass chucking rocks at the cars driving down the freeway, and how they hadn't caught him yet. That week, she said, she'd come up with a gentle reminder to herself of the radical turn her life had just taken.
"Welcome to North Carolina," Lynn shared her wise words with me. "Things are different here."
That phrase has come back to me this past week. Often. It's taken a little twist, though: Welcome to South Dakota. Things are sure different here.
We haven't found rush hour yet. I don't think they have it. Adam and I have been out several times now between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 PM, but not once has there been any traffic-induced delay. Of course, the fact that we can easily transverse the city in less than twenty minutes does make everything seem right next door.
Our electricity is provided by a cooperative. I'm not sure what that means. I haven't yet read the brochures they sent us. Adam tells me that if we pay more than is spent providing us with lights, heat, and computer time, they'll send us money back. I could get into this.
We took a family outing to a local apple orchard this week. I was excited to go because apple picking is something Adam and I have been trying to do every autumn for five years, but this is the first time we've managed it. The publicity for the orchard describes it as the perfect place to get away from city life. And it was lovely. Giant hay bales, a pumpkin patch, a little country store, and lots and lots of apples. Did I mention that this particular orchard is just five miles from the heart of the city?
Last Friday evening, we made the mistake of trying to shop at the big box superstore on the weekend. Everyone else was there, too. Maybe that's where they've been hiding rush hour. In any case, I should have been warned as we drove into the parking lot. A good section of the last row away from the entrance was filled by a collection of recreational vehicles. It reminded me of home games at Louisiana State (Geaux Tigers!).
Since we've been here, I started watching the news again. It makes me laugh. Not the horror stories they show, but the anchors. And the technicians. I'm guessing that our market here is a few rungs below Chicago on the career ladder of news crews. The evening news, especially on the weekends, is a bit less polished than what I remember, back when I used to watch the news regularly.
Adam and I have started playing a little game I call "Guess the Story". When the graphics don't match the copy, the first one to say which story the footage is from wins. We've had two matches this week, and we're tied at one apiece. Stay tuned for the bonus round. That's when we predict how soon the overpass-rock-throwing story will air. Should be any day now.