When you’re my age, living in North Dakota is like a sinking ship — people expect you to jump into a lifeboat and paddle to safety.
Whether they define safety as a big city across the country or just anywhere outside of the state line, it seems people just assume young adults are jumping ship and following their dreams to other states — except me and a few other hardy souls that is.
The community elders always seem bemused by my choosing to live here voluntarily.
It’s not because I can’t seem to find a lifeboat.
I don’t see living here as the end of the world.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in North Dakota and have built a tolerance to the frigid winters, Bud Light and the odor of the day — the solid green waters of Lake Ashtabula when I was a kid, and now, good old sugar beets.
Perhaps, it’s because this is a good place to be an employed young adult. Up until the oil boom, it seems this state was perceived as heaven’s 70,700-square-mile waiting room.
This year, some crazy people in some far-off state decided North Dakota was at the top of 10 best states for young people.
I mean that’d have to be crazy to do that right? It seems like whenever I tell people older than me I enjoy my job and want to stick around, there’s always someone who expects me to say “I’m blowing this popsicle stand faster than ice would melt in a bonfire.”
I always want to ask, “Should I not be sticking around?”
“Does this state have some terrible level of misery you can only unlock once you’re living here at age 30?”
If there’s some sort of terrifying rite of passage that I haven’t already endured by living here for 23 years — besides subzero temperatures — I’d like to know about it.
If it involves me having to dangle from great heights by my pinky toes while someone rubs their foot on my face, then Minnesota is getting a new resident.
But if that’s not the case, then I’m not sure what all the gloom and doom is about when it comes to where young people want to start a career.
Some leave and never return. Others leave and eventually return. And then there are people like me who will likely be permanent residents.
So, why do I stay?
Call me crazy, but I like it here.
Jewett’s columns are published on the first Sunday of each month in the Herald’s Accent section.