Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the future.

Maybe it’s because Jason and I have talked about having kids. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to see my career path more clearly.

Probably it’s because I saw a woman urinating on the sidewalk while I was walking to a restaurant last night and all I could think was, “Is this where I want to live forever?!”

When I first moved to Los Angeles I gave it three years. Those three years turned into six and those six years turned into…well, seven.

Last week for Mother’s Day my mom, aunt, and grandma all spent the weekend together in North Dakota. After a few glasses of wine they Face Timed me, laughing and scrunched together around the kitchen table.

It made my heart ache. I wanted to crawl through the screen and nestle between them, the third generation, right where I was supposed to be.

I told them how much I missed them and my grandma shook her head and said what she always says.

“Then you should move back to North Dakota.”

It’s her constant refrain. Not since leaving their village in Norway has any woman in my grandma’s family moved as far away as I have.  She cannot comprehend what I’m doing out here “with the all the liberals.”

Sometimes I can’t comprehend it either – especially now that Jason and I are beginning to talk about having kids. Raising children so far away from the women who raised me seems almost impossible.

Most of my cousins still live close to home and photos of their kids on tractors, running through wide-open spaces, and wrestling their cousins fills my Facebook feed and makes me wish my dreams belonged back on the farm.

But they don’t. My particular dreams couldn’t be accomplished if I stayed close to home.

I chose to leap for something I wanted and it took me a while to realize that leaping means you become groundless. Now I wish I could put my feet on solid ground again but I’m facing a different life than the one I had always imagined for myself and for my future children.    

I know what it’s like to be a kid on the farm.

I don’t know anything about what it’s be like to be a kid in Los Angeles.

Will my children learn about traffic instead of tractors? Will they know the difference between Kim and Khloe instead of wheat and barley?

And yes, yes. LA has a lot to offer – museums and parks, mountains and an ocean. But it can’t offer me my family.

As a kid, I couldn’t throw a piece of lefse without hitting a relative. We were surrounded on all sides. Starting a family without that safety net feels scary and foreign.

My grandma never worried about this. She didn’t have time for those kinds of questions. She was too busy raising three kids after being widowed, to busy working as a full time nurse, to busy cooking, gardening, and wiping away tears and then doing it all over again when her kids had kids.

I feel envious of her assuredness of place. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was exactly where she was supposed to be – that she did the exact thing she knew was right for her children.

I wonder if I’ll ever have that sure footedness.

How do you know that you’re doing the best thing for yourself? For your future family?

The honest answer, I suppose, is you don’t.

So for now I’ll keep trying to carve out a home here in LA, surrounded by my dreams and a bunch of liberals.


This piece was originally written for the Fargo Forum.  You can find them (and me) here.

Not The Destination

Not The Destination

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