Burkhartsmeier: ‘Back where I come from’
This past weekend, the smell of the corn burner and crisp winter air made me close my eyes, breath deep and be grateful. And I knew I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
I have been back in Rugby for almost eight months. Time flies, but Thanksgiving reminded me to express how truly happy and overjoyed I am being back. I get questioned, often with a snarky tone, “Why did you move back?” I even hear the comment, “There is nothing to do here.”
First, I moved back after 14 years because I was sick of hearing that “wish you were here” line from my family, or hearing about how much fun everyone had without me at an event or random weekend. I have always loved Rugby and deep down knew I wanted to be back in the area. However, as a single girl that can be a big commitment (pun intended).
I knew I wanted to be closer to my family. I love that I can stop in my parents’ place at any given time to say hi with a cup of coffee or join for supper. I love that I get a call to pick up my niece or nephew at the last minute because something came up. I love small towns and my job allows me to do this. I thoroughly loved my childhood in Rugby and all the summering at the Orrin farm.
I believe there was also something more calling me back – a yearning for community and familiarness. This community is unbelievably open and friendly – that is if you want it to be – and for that I have to say, “Thank you.” I was immediately greeted from individuals just welcoming me back, happy to have me. Even strangers introduced themselves. I joined the Lions, which not only gives me a regular lunch date every Monday, but a wonderful way to be part of the community. This summer, I was at Music in the Park on a regular basis, either as a patron or a Lion. And, go figure, when one serves ice cream, everyone is friendly. I’ve had opportunities to help with events in town and different committees have introduced me to more people. I attended every home football game this year with my Panther Pride beaming. I know there are certain people I will run into and get a great big smile and hug from, even if I saw them yesterday! I love that I can run into a stranger and as soon as they realize who I am, they have a story for me or we can just banter about the current happenings like we are good friends.
I used to laugh when a story started with, “Oh, you know so and so that used to live on the corner of such and such?” I would NEVER know, but learned to smile and nod, embracing the story and fresh knowledge. However, I have caught myself saying, “Oh, you know that sweet lady that lived on such and such street?” Oy!
The connections are endless and even if you may not agree with your neighbor’s choice in lawn ornaments or parking arrangements, if you were in serious need, good chance he or she (and just about everyone) will help you out.
I never worry about breaking down between town and home on the farm. If something happens, I know the first passerby will stop. It is nice knowing that the firemen are all volunteer and help out because it is the right thing to do. I could note that one of them sat next to me in fourth grade. Or that I have come back through the years to my dentist for a second opinion because I trust that he is honest.
I don’t miss any of the cities I have lived in, but I miss a number of my friends. I have seen people come and go from my life, if in death, broken friendships or relationships or just plain distance. I have always lived where I was, but I’ve always called Rugby home.
I don’t want to say I never take a day for granted because, yes, I too can get caught up with the hustle and bustle of life and deadlines. And this time of year we hear be thankful, and why not. Love and live everyday because every day flies by faster and faster. Make the most of it. It is all about the effort you put in. So if you see me on the street, smile, wave, say hi or introduce yourself. You’ll make my day and maybe even your own!
Burkhartsmeier is the advertising executive at the Tribune.
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