Last April my first column appeared in the Isanti County News. I don’t remember it exactly, but I think I implied I was going to memorize the names of every person in the county and the floorplan of every building. I remember it was peppy, anyway.
This April, however, I’m writing my last column for the paper. I’ve had a great year crammed full of important lessons, the most important of which is to remain open to life’s surprises. Here’s what happened between the two Aprils.
My wife Ashley and I moved into Isanti County with all the expected enthusiasm of a young couple starting out. Ashley’s fervor was somewhat tempered by the prospect of commuting to her work at a financial planning firm in Woodbury, but I assured her based on my knowledge of Google maps her commute would be only an hour in perfect conditions.
Now those of you who have lived in Minnesota for any length of time and particularly those who commute know that there are only two seasons in this state: blizzard season and road work season. There have been days this winter where Ashley has spent more than three hours in the car. But because I had a good thing going, I didn’t see anything to fix.
So at the end of a long day I take a 10-minute drive back home, pick up a book and put up my feet or maybe settle in for a quick nap. When Ashley arrives home, I say something like, “Hi babe! How was your commute?”
“Terrible,” she’ll say, but what I hear is: “Terrible, but I don’t mind at all! Can I make you some dinner?” (I’m told other husbands struggle with same listening impairment. One can only hope modern medicine will find an answer).
But recently a college classmate of mine contacted me to let me know he was going back to school and his reporter position at a North St. Paul newspaper would be opening, and after talking to the editors they graciously offered the opening to me. This move gives me an exciting opportunity to keep on doing the work that I love in a new environment with a fresh set of challenges and joys, and the best part is that Ashley and I will be within 10 minutes of each other during the week.
My last day at the Isanti County News will be Friday, April 29, and Ashley and I will move to our new place in east St. Paul that weekend.
I’d like to thank Rachel Kytonen, Greg Hunt, Jeff Andres and everyone in the Scotsman/Isanti County News office for their kindness and patience when teaching me everything from filing stories to operating the antediluvian vending machine in the break room (Rumor has it that it was one of Thomas Edison’s prototypes).
I’d also like to thank all of you for welcoming me into your classrooms, living rooms, kitchens, garages, basements, backyards, barns and businesses and chatting with me. It’s been my privilege and my pleasure to tell your stories.
This past year has been perhaps the happiest of my life for a number of reasons; the Isanti County News and the people of this area among them. While Ashley and I are excited for this next chapter to unfold, we will always stay connected to the relationships and memories we made here. And no matter where I go, Cambridge is still my hometown.