Thirty-five days. That’s how long Aric and I have been Custer residents. Although, as I found out over the weekend, the only way to be considered a local is if your grandparents are from here. Fail. I might never be a local. And it doesn’t help that I have Nebraska plates and will likely be labeled a tourist for quite awhile. But heck, that gives me an excuse to drive at the speed of a turtle through Custer State Park, pull u-turns in the middle of the highway, and turn off the road when there is another car parked. Tourists, you do this.. and you know who you are… what if they are just looking at a map and you think they’ve struck visual gold and you get out of your car, camera in hand, and there is absolutely nothing to see. I don’t blame you though (much), it’s a beautiful area and there likely is something to see… the sweeping views, hills for days, thousands of ponderosas, but really… that buffalo or prairie dog you think is out there, isn’t. Because let’s be honest, the other car spilled something and had to pull off the road to clean it up.
I’ve really perfected my 20-second elevator speech. “I’m from Omaha, Nebraska (I add the ‘Nebraska’ part depending on the situation. Chances are, most everyone knows where Omaha is… but sometimes you never know) and I just moved here at the beginning of May. My fiancé got a job in the park (to which most ask “which park?”– apparently I need to accept that in this area there’s more than one state park… unlike Omaha. Oh Mahoney, you’ve got nothin’ on this place!) Three additional questions almost always follow: 1) Is it a seasonal job or permanent? 2) Is he working for Custer State Parks or South Dakota Game Fish and Parks? 3) When are you getting married? I give this spiel about 3-8 times per day. It’s a nice change from the little ditty I gave before I moved. This is where we’re going, this is what he’s doing, this is what I’m doing. I guess not much from the story has change, other than now we’re actually doing it. It’s more legit!
The other day I was tidying up the house. We live in a townhouse just east of town– between town and the park (about 1.5-2 miles from each). It’s pretty much perfect. The exact amount of space we need, a little rural but still close to the grocery store and other necessities, and a nice big loop around the neighborhood to walk Hank. So I’m picking up dog toys, straightening couch cushions, things I did in Omaha– oftentimes before someone would come over (or just because it needs to be done) and it dawns on me… I really don’t have to clean for anyone…. because *newsflash* WE DON’T HAVE ANY FRIENDS. None. Zip. Zilch. Other than our co-workers, of which Aric and I have very few, we know hardly anyone. Let’s see, there’s Richard, the Vietnam war vet who will call the cops if he sees us doing drugs (great Richard, thanks for categorizing us. Nebraska might be the meth capitol of the world, but we don’t drive a Pontiac Aztec…) Richard likes to walk around the neighborhood with his walker adorned with an American flag and a pirate flag. And on cold days, he wears Ugg boots that are taped up with duct tape. He’s a real character. Luckily, he is fond of Hank and for that I AM grateful. You don’t want a cranky neighbor who hates your dog. Especially when he informed us (in fact, within the first 2 minutes of meeting him) that he has guns and he’s killed people before. Cool, I’m Katie and I’ve never held a gun and I save spiders. Awesome.
Aric and I are two of about four people in our area of the neighborhood who have jobs…. because we aren’t yet retired. We live essentially in a retirement community. When we pulled up with our Penske truck on May 3rd, there were three elderly women with walkers and canes in our driveway chatting with Richard and Mary next door. That’s five people over the age of 70 in our driveway as we arrive. Quite the welcoming committee. The highlight of their day, from what I can tell, is going to the mailbox at 4:10 when the mail truck arrives. Every day, they make their way to the mailbox (all of which are closest to our house), but I am glad to see they always have mail in their hand. Nothing like going to the mailbox and returning with nothing… that’s usually me. Apart from Richard, I’ve met Eileen down the street who is a spunky woman who loves to be in her garden, Sharon who loves Hank and likes to give him dog treats and Tom who walks his dogs around the same time as us and like to give Hank treats. Wait a minute… is there a common theme here? It’s obvious, Hank is much more popular than me. Maybe I should let him invite some friends over. Really though, I’m not complaining about not meeting many people my age. It’s actually kind of nice to know Aric and I have time to spend just me and him. Geez Omaha friends, always getting in the way of my time with Aric! (Kidding! Come visit me! Please! I’m serious!) The whole friend-making thing is so odd to me though. How do you even do it these days? Things that have worked for me in the past: 1) Having the same shoes as someone; 2) Testing out of a Language Arts section and doing honors level coursework in a small room down the hall together; 3) Being in the same group to give a presentation on lab safety; 4) Meeting on a school bus on the way to camp…. somehow I don’t think these situations are going to come up. I guess I’ll have to come up with some alternative methods!
This upcoming weekend, Aric and I are making our way back to Omaha. It’s shower weekend! Three in fact– gotta fit ’em all in! It’ll be nice to be back in the “city” and stock up on some grocery essentials. Of course we can get most things in town, but they don’t seem to know what a “sale” is… broccoli for $3.00 isn’t a sale price. And neither is $4.99 for spinach. No thank you, Custer County Market. And of course I’m looking forward to being with my family and friends. Hey, does anyone have a feather I can borrow? Or tomahawk? Just wondering….
I apologize for the shoddy blog design. I don’t get it. Or I just haven’t taken the time to figure it out… but everyone loves pinecones (and free blog templates..) One last note, I’ve started teaching yoga in a nearby town, Hill City. Of course it’s a small studio in a town of 984, so class sizes are pretty small (like one student) but hey, I’m just glad to be teaching again! The studio just opened up this past January so slowly but surely!
love from the hills,
PS — My bagel thin with peanut butter this morning tasted like s’mores. Weird.
PSS (or is it PPS… I should remember these things from middle school handwritten notes…)– Hi Mom! (since she’s probably the only one reading this)