I pulled over to take this picture during a fairly epic windstorm. I climbed through the driver’s side window, slammed my sholders against the top of the window frame and tried not to be blown off the truck. It was rather exciting.
Off Highway 85 there are mazes of dirt roads. They lead everywhere and nowhere, which sounds poetic but I assure you is a somewhat disconcerting reality when you actually drive them. I suppose all of them lead somewhere eventually, but it’s a mystery to me. Most are not marked by street signs…best guesses are a good bet when you are trying to reach somewhere by dirt road. Or you need a paper map. Yes, out here, you still need a paper map. GPS is a laughable concept in this area. I’m serious. So is getting mail to an actual address. Or pizza delivery (By the way, Dominoes has a personal size gluten-free pizza which is rocking my world right now).
Those dirt roads are a huge blessing because I don’t have to get on Highway 85 to get to work. I could absolutely take the highway, but it would be a daily exercise in cardio and panicky prayer, since it would require TWO left-turns. That is, two left turns with semi trucks pushing 80mph (or more) coming both ways, hopefully seeing me and my blinker blocking the one lane part of the highway. No thank you. Instead, I drive about 10 minutes on bumpy dirt roads and have a heart-attack free trip to work. About once every two weeks, sometimes three, I’ll see another truck on the road. It is a solitary commute most of the time.
Actually, life here is solitary, most of the time. I’ve been trying to figure out what makes it feel so lonely. Sam, my sweet husband is here, and I even have a brother very close by and a brother-in-law a 45-minute drive away. They are over for dinner all the time, and Sam comes home every evening and usually has Sundays off. I cherish all of this and yet, often feel such loneliness.
I’m being really honest here, because I didn’t start this blog to make my life look perfect. That’s what Pinterest is for. If you want that side of things check out my boards. Here, I’m honest with you, because if you are compelled to write you have to tell the truth. Otherwise, there is no cathartic purpose in it whatsoever. As I said, I have a great husband, I have brothers here, and I also work with two amazing ladies. I chat with them throughout the day and I really enjoy their company. I’m not without human contact! So, I feel a little silly writing that the loneliness out here is almost crushing sometimes. But that’s the truth.
I’ve thought about it a lot. Maybe it’s because I feel really out of place. I like tea houses, fashion, high heels, museums and meeting my friends for espresso and gluten-free treats in Seattle. I like the boutique stores and recycling and watching BBC period dramas with my mom. I like Target trips with my sister and getting to hang out with my little brother and my dad. I like to go over to my friend Elli’s house and ohh and ahh over her latest culinary experiment or artistic endeavor. I like to sit by the water and stare at Mt. Rainier. None of this, with or without the people mentioned above, is practical or authentically possible here.
I’m risking sounding like a winy baby here, I know. But inwardly I have been a winy baby so why not just admit it? You might be thinking, “Ok, so big deal! Go make some friends!” and I would totally get you saying that. Except you don’t live out here. You don’t understand this world. You probably don’t work 10-12 hour shifts and then try to wisely use the rest of your free time keeping your trailer clean and spending what time you can with your spouse. You don’t know what it is like to be literally in a man’s world.
There are more ladies out here than there used to be (thank goodness), but it doesn’t really matter. I still avoid going to the grocery store without Sam (trust me, the mantra “I am woman, hear me roar” doesn’t mean crap when you know you are being followed down the aisles, or out in the parking lot, or stared down no matter where you go), and the only time I ever see other girls (besides work and restaurants) is at the grocery store. And believe me, they want to get out of there just as fast as I do. By the way, the whole being stared at or followed thing has nothing to do with physical attractiveness. Just trust me on that one.
So where does that leave things? I don’t know. I try to call the people I love dearly, my lifelines to normal life. Lately, I’ve been quiet and mopey trying to figure out how I’m going to survive more of this endless oil patch. But our life here is going to be our new normal whether I like it or not. Not forever, but for now.
I heard a pastor speaking over the radio this morning- it was American Family Radio, I believe. He was talking about how crummy things can get when you lose your focus. I can’t remember what example he used, but I heard him loud and clear. These past couple weeks, I’ve lost my focus. Not only has my focus not been on the Lord, it hasn’t even been on the goals Sam and I set together, the very goals that we are out here to accomplish. I let my dissatisfaction with the daily grind out here become my focus, so of course that turned into unabashed misery. To be a little fair to myself, I was sick the whole weekend with an awful cold, so it was hard to be positive-minded. 🙂 Now though, I know I need to “re-set”. Back up, rewind, start again. There will still be that lonely feeling, but it doesn’t have to be consuming. The focus on faith and our goals means there isn’t room for self-pity. No one is going to save this adventure for when I’m resilient enough to handle it.
As the male instructor at the orientation for my current job said, (Well, if you get a paper-cut…suck it up, BUTTERCUP!)
*More on female stereotyping and job discrimination in the Bakken at a later date* 😉