Poppin’ on By: Adjusting to Life in My Hometown

(Following is my column, which appeared in the Tues., July 24, edition of the Devils Lake Journal http://www.devilslakejournal.com/ where I sell ads and write stories.  For more info about my hometown of Devils Lake, North Dakota, visit http://www.devilslakend.com/)

If you’ve been reading my column these last few months, you’ll know that I recently moved back to my hometown of Devils Lake after many years of living in Denver and Washington, D.C. With each of these metro areas topping the one million mark – more than the entire state of North Dakota’s population – it’s easy to be just another body, and, if you like, have a fair amount of privacy.

During my long stretch of unemployment, I often thought that if I had a heart attack and keeled over in my apartment, no one would know until the death stench became so strong that the apartment management was called. I kid you not when I say that. It’s not that I am a loner. I have a wide circle of friends and some family in the Denver area, however, but it’s not as if I saw or talked to them every day, and only one of these friends lived nearby – just a couple of minutes away.

Now that I am back in the small town of Devils Lake with family and friends so nearby, the concept of people just poppin’ on by my house for a visit is a bit of an adjustment. Aside from the one friend that lived so close to my apartment in Denver, family and friends were scattered throughout the Denver metro area. For about three years, I lived in a town called Lafayette CO, just east of Boulder. Lafayette is north of Denver’s most northern suburbs, so I was a good hour away from where most of my friends lived in the southern burbs. However, you would have thought I moved to Alaska, because it was like pulling teeth to get people to come up and visit.

“It’s so far away,” friends would say with a sigh when I asked why they didn’t come up more often. However, these travel-reluctant pals had a point, because in a big city like Denver it’s not just the distance that’s a travel factor. It’s the traffic congestion (which is something I most definitely do not miss about big city life!) Anyway, when I lived in Lafayette I never even once had anyone just pop on by for a visit.

Now I am not adverse to the spur-of-the-moment pop on by visits, however, it means the “pop byers” might be greeted by not only me and the kit cats, but most likely a less than tidy home. I am not a complete slob, but a neat nick I am not. I really enjoy a clean, tidy, organized house, however, I’m not always wild about the regular effort to keep it that way. When I mentioned that fact to a recent pop in visit by a DL gal pal she said “they are coming to see you, not your house.”

Good point friend. In fact, this pal also noticed when she popped on by recently and her knocks on the door went unanswered that I have a garden plaque that says “friends, family and laughter are always welcome here.” So she decided after reading that to mosey on to the backyard to find me. And I’m glad she did, because what the plaque says is true. But you might want to bring a dustpan with you.

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