Deja vu

I shouldn’t have started sharing. I know better. At least, I lived in Pierre long enough that I should have known better.

Today I decided I needed to get out of the house. Online applications are well and good, but — I decided — a little face-to-face contact couldn’t hurt. And, there were a couple jobs that interested me more than the others.

I got up, kissed my grandgirls goodbye, and got ready for my grand adventure. Driving in California still intimidates me a little (gross understatement), and I’m not sure of the protocol for seeking employment here. Most of the listings for the positions for which I have applied specifically state the applicant is not to call, indicate the employer will call if the applicant is selected for an interview. Since, according to Sara, there are hundreds of applicants for every opening around here, I suppose that makes sense. But, I’m not good at selling myself on paper, so I’m a little uncomfortable with that arrangement. My rationale for the person-to-person contacts? What do I have to lose?

All things considered, I think they went well. One individual in charge of hiring thanked me for being persistent, and indicated she’s looking for someone with my skills. She’s going to look for my online application. I am hopeful.

I was delighted to discover the other business was just blocks from the Catholic church I have been attending. With the right start time, I might be able to attend Mass during the week. It was also within walking distance of a small lake surrounded by a park strewn with benches. And populated with ducks and geese.

Home, I sighed, when I discovered the park after stopping at the business (a newspaper). I grabbed my sack lunch from the truck and walked down to a shaded bench to eat. It didn’t take long for a couple feathered beggars to inquire whether I was sharing. I threw each part of a cracker (I hope that doesn’t violate any ordinances here) and the next thing I knew they had company.

The same thing used to happen in Pierre when I took stale bread to Capital Lake or the causeway on the Missouri River. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what this place feels like. I’m not sure how the folks here, in sunny California, would feel were they to learn their community feels like a town out in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota. Perhaps they wouldn’t mind if they knew how much I loved it there.

And I did. I moved there expecting to stay only a year. The place had no art center and no bookstore (at the time). But I fell in love with the river and the people there. When I found myself unemployed after an aborted attempt at nonprofit management, it broke my heart to move. If I had to do it over, I’d go to work at Walmart or a convenience store rather than leave for a newspaper job.

Life doesn’t give us do-overs, though. As Robert Frost wrote in “The Road Not Taken,” way leads to way. We can’t go back. We can only learn from our experiences and move forward.

Pierre led to Watertown where I struggled with depression for nine long months. Leaving Pierre was hard; losing my dad less than a month later was hard; losing a dear friend unexpectedly just a couple months after that was hard. Too, I lived in an earth-banked house that had no windows; I need sunlight and wilted under the perpetual gloom of artificial light.

Watertown led to Lake Preston, where I enjoyed living in a small house with sun-drenched rooms, appreciated the warm blanket of small town friendliness, and was reminded how pettiness grows in the Petri dish of malice when there aren’t enough people to dilute the impact. One person, I discovered there, is all it takes to make life hell in a small town.

Lake Preston led to Custer where I delighted in a church community that understood the importance of fellowship. I encountered some small town pettiness there, too, but more than anything, I witnessed how great the needs were. I could do little to address them, but I did try to be a friend whenever I could. Maybe it helped.

And now I’m in California, sitting by a small lake, and wondering if the comfortable familiarity of this place, the sense of déjà vu I experienced when I found it, might be a sign that I am in the right place at this juncture in my life. You can’t go home again, but maybe you can find a new home that is equally satisfying.

I hope so.


One thought on “Deja vu

  1. Mary, thank you. I LOVED the petri dish reference!

    Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace…Amelia Earhart


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