Three years ago today, we arrived in Rapid City. Happy Dakotaversary to us.
Three years, man. It doesn’t even seem possible. There’s a cliche about time passing in the blink of an eye, but I swear, living here still feels like a novelty. The newness has yet to wear off, and I have no idea why. Growing up an Air Force brat, we never lived in any one place longer than three years. By the time that 36th month rolled around, everything felt like old hat.
And yet, it feels like just yesterday that we rolled into town, excited and exhausted after three days on the road. 1,250 miles in the slow lane, Tara and I forming a mini caravan consisting of a U-Haul filled with all our worldly possessions, towing my Mazda, and a pickup truck with a cat recovering from a mysterious illness. We had walkie-talkies and assigned each other racy call signs. We ate gas station jerky and listened to hours’ worth of road tunes and Tara had a come-apart in the middle of Montana after 48 hours with little sleep, and yet, it was all a grand adventure I look back upon with nothing but fondness today. We had rolled the dice, quit our jobs, and were headed into the great unknown. A brand new life awaited us, and I probably should have been scared to death, but I never was. I had confidence that everything would work out…and boy, has it. More than I ever could have expected.
It kinda feels like we got out of Portland just in time, too. The city has changed a lot since we left, and not for the better. Everybody tells me constantly how lucky we are to have escaped. From the protests and the crime and the traffic and the homeless camps and the high cost of living.
I am amazed at how little I actually miss about the place. Family, obviously. Shanahan’s (our favorite divey Irish pub). Rain is nice…we don’t get nearly enough of that out here. Being 100 minutes from the Pacific Ocean was cool. The music scene was awesome; I’ve lost track of how many up-and-coming and/or never-coming-up-but-still-fun indie bands we got to see in intimate clubs over the years.
I feel nostalgia sometimes, but I don’t miss it. There is no way I would trade in this life for that one. Not even counting our beautiful house and great jobs and easy access to the beauty and opportunity the Black Hills provide, I am a midwesterner at heart, and this place will mark the final chapters of my life. For the record: I hope there’s a lot of book left to read still.
Tonight, we went out to dinner to celebrate our South Dakota anniversary. Driving home, I was amazed once again by the sheer beauty of this place. We were treated to rain, thunder, lightning, rainbows, and a sunset…all rolled into one.
Life is good. If we hadn’t taken a huge gamble, we’d have missed out on so very much.
Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Embrace it. You might just be surprised by how wonderfully things turn out.