Monica Johnson recently moved to Halliday from Kansas. It’s the first time she has been away from her family.
The 23-year-old moved to North Dakota with her oil-worker husband of six months. With his work on a rig near Williston, Johnson is home by herself. A lot.
She missed her husband. And her mom. And her dad. And even her puppy, “Snuggles.”
I can relate to what she is going through, especially with the holidays looming.
I, too, left my family behind and moved to North Dakota for work in January of 2015. My wife stayed behind in Colorado to finish out the school year. She couldn’t leave her kids. Not like that.
The plan was she would join me after school let out. It was to be an exciting journey for us.
I packed my bag – mostly work clothes and my steel-toed boots. I grabbed a couple cold ones (a Coke and a Dr. Pepper), made myself a ham sandwich for the road, and made sure I had a couple of tapes (Earth, Wind & Fire, The Grateful Dead, and The Best of Charlie Pride).
I gave Wifey a peck on the cheek and then boogied to the faraway land that was to be my home. It was an unusually warm day when I left Colorado, with the temperatures in the high 60s. And I was dressed for it, not knowing what to expect in North Dakota.
Things started to turn on me in Wyoming. The wind started blowing. In South Dakota, it started snowing. In North Dakota (Bowman, to be exact), my heater went out. There I was, in shorts, a tank top and flip flops in flipping 9,000 degrees below zero!
Luckily, there was a truck stop that was open. I spent $30 on some sweats and gloves. I probably would’ve paid $300, but the cashier was cool.
Eventually, I reached Dickinson, found company housing and started my new life. But I was already missing my wife.
Although I met a lot of nice people at work, I was still lonely. My neighbors and I just passed like ships in the night.
That’s where Johnson is. But she saw a flier the other day that brought a smile to her face. It was for the Dunn County Community Thanksgiving Dinner.
She’s hoping her husband will be home, so they can go together. If not, she’s going to go by herself.
The dinner is scheduled for Sunday at the High Plains Cultural Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s free and everybody is welcome to break bread and to fellowship.
“Literally, everyone in the community is welcome, all ages, all walks of life, all family sizes,” said the Rev. Dorothy R. Williams, one of the organizers of the community meal.
I would’ve loved to have something like this community dinner, when I moved to North Dakota.
Bryan Gallegos is the publisher of the Dunn County Herald. He enjoys photography, tacos, listening the ‘70s music, playing softball (but not very fast), and the Oakland Raiders.