Come Tuesday, I’ll have lived in Worthington for exactly one year.
It feels weird, honestly. I haven’t lived in one place for this long since… Well, since high school. It feels oddly stable, like my life should be in flux right now. The balance is dizzying.
“One year,” I told myself. If I was really going to do it — move to a city smaller than my hometown, heavy with wind and harsh weather, a place where I didn’t know anyone and nobody knew me, for reasons I didn’t fully understand and couldn’t explain — if I was really going to do it, I was going to last at least one year. So I loaded up my parents’ minivan with all my earthly belongings and made the trek south to an apartment and a job at the Daily Globe, braced against the next twelve months.
And then — I don’t know when, I wasn’t paying attention — it became my job and my apartment. My town, sort of. I can’t engineer investment in places, people; it has to grow on its own. These days I sometimes find myself — on my off days — reading about the progress of a particular bill as it travels through the Minnesota Legislature, or looking at the way a local charity effort is impacting Worthington, and I wonder when that happened. When did this change from a thing that I simply do to a thing that I care about? I didn’t notice the moment I switched from observer to participant.
“This is a leaving town,” someone told me. Full of new arrivals and people who have lived here their whole lives. Relationships start to feel like they have expiration dates. When I meet someone here in town, I’m almost always asked the same two questions: “How long have you been here? Planning to stay?”
I’ll give it a year, I said. And now it has been a year, and instead of leaving I’m finding new ways to connect to the community.
This town is shaped by wind — ever-present, inflexible — and for me that applies to character and relationships as well as landscaping. The wind scrapes out the excess, everything that isn’t securely tied down, revealing rough edges and vulnerabilities, tearing open injuries. It has been a hard year. I’ve learned a little more about the things I cling to.
I’ve also met some of the kindest people I’ve known — people who have made me laugh, welcomed me into their communities. People who thought, “She won’t stay, she’s one of the leavers,” and took me in anyway. That kind of warmth, acceptance — I’m not used to it. It makes me wonder if I could have that kind of strength, that kind of generosity, and what kind of practice it takes to earn them.
I’m used to having a game plan, and I don’t have one yet. Question two left blank. But it’s been one year, and I’ve looked around and noticed I’ve put down roots here — projects I want to see to completion, relationships I want to puzzle into, community developments that make me excited about what can happen here. It doesn’t decide anything; I have roots in other places, too. But it’s been one year, and I’m still trying to pinpoint exactly when this became my town.