The major obstacle with moving to South Dakota was the unknown and lack of understanding of the climate. We imagined it would be extremely cold, tundra like, especially since our research revealed that snow covers the ground for 8 months out of the year. The move was happening in October, not unlike this one, and snow had already been on the ground since early September. We lacked the proper vehicles, clothing and knowledge of a cold lifestyle. We knew right away that two things needed to happen. Firstly, that 2 door Honda Civic I had needed to be traded in for something with a little more omph. We ended up with 4WD Grand Jeep Cherokee. I am not going to lie, she was kind of a beater. Secondly, we needed to prepare our wardrobes. We were aware that their would be better clothing options in the area we were moving to, but having a few basic pieces to keep us from freezing right away seemed smart. Unfortunately, the understanding of the cold lifestyle would have to be learned once stuck in the snow.
My husband left roughly 6 to 8 weeks before we would arrive. He found a townhouse to rent, scoured the town for decent, minimally used furniture, and located the Jeep. We did not have a lot of things when we were in New Jersey, because we lived with his parents right out of school, and only had enough to fill up two U-Pack moving cubes. Once he felt that he had enough arranged to house two toddlers and myself we booked a flight to join him.
If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet.
It was the first time the girls had ever been on a flight, and it was easier than I imagined it to be. I remember deciding to ride with one on my lap and one in their own seat. I wanted to save money and once the seat belt lights were off I figured they would share a seat anyway. We got lucky when the person in the third seat decided to move to another empty seat after take off. I don’t blame him. No one enjoys sitting next to kids on a plane! The flight went without a tear, fight or fear expressed. It was a great flight. After landing we gathered our luggage and were met with the brisk, cold air immediately out the terminal doors. I quickly lost focus on the cold once gazing at the brilliant sky. It had been years since I had witnessed so many stars at once. You do not see stars like that in the city and in that moment I fell in love.
It was this move that allowed me to grow and understand the type of area that I would long for in the future. I loved the snow. I loved it even though it required me to shovel my car out in the morning, after my shift at work, after a short or long shopping trip at the grocery store and after an afternoon at the library. Basically the shovel was my third arm in South Dakota. I was comfortable wearing short sleeves in 30 degree weather and became unphased by the snow crystals that would form in my hair and eyebrows. I decided then that when we were ready to settle down long term that it would have to have a real winter season.
Along with my fondness for the cold I realized I liked the small, quaint, quirky, older feel the town projected. I loved the history of the buildings and the original storefronts that shaped downtown. I was excited to know what the summer would bring, but by April we found a new opportunity that led us back to New Jersey. My husband and the girls left before me to find a house to rent in the area we once lived. The would stay in the guest room at his parents while a 4 month pregnant me would pack up and seal our much beloved time in South Dakota.
You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price your pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.