D. F. Krieger

Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Walk, RUN!

The area next to my hometown is in shreds. It's almost unreal to look at the online photos and see places that I recognize only from the angle of a certain tree, or pieces of a storefront sign. News articles are displaying the many things that I remember going through: an ice storm in 2009, a flood around 2008. There was that in-land hurricane that decimated homes not made for such things in 2009 as well. We wont talk about the common micro-bursts that often come with the fiercer storms, the yearly ice that leaves you stranded for days without power at least once, the spring floods that keep washing away farmers crops...

The Alltel where my husband and I purchased our cellphones
We probably shouldn't discuss the economy in my hometown either. The fact that if you aren't a nurse, a coal miner, or a truck driver, you are screwed. You'd better prepare yourself for a life of fast food, super markets, or (for those lucky enough to afford a real degree) one of the few jobs that come with a retirement program. Food stamps and medical cards were as common as a cold in winter. I fondly call Illinois the "Welfare State."

I guess you could say I ran away from home. The countryside is gorgeous. The Shawnee National Forest with its renowned rock formations is simply breath-taking. The deer and turkey that dot the fields on either side of the highway always brought a smile to my face. But it wasn't enough.
Garden of the Gods, Shawnee National Forest

I, like many I grew up with, knew I needed to get the hell out of there. How can you gain any ground when you are fighting a natural disaster every year? When will you be financially stable enough to meet your desire for small, fun things when some of the highest paying jobs (like the director of a certain department at the local college) caps out at 50k. HA! A relative of mine moved to Virginia with me. A job he's worked less than six months pays the same, and requires no college degree.

The difference between small towns and these metropoli is astounding to me. It's almost more than a country girl used to 4,500 people can take. The biggest thing I've been getting used to though? Hurricanes. When I first moved here, I thought they were terrifying. I'd seen the news clips of them in all their glory. But then I went through one. The year after that, I went through another.

At least with a hurricane you can see it coming days in advance. You can make the decision of, "Should I stay or should I go?"

I suppose, if I had any piece of advice to give to those struggling to put their lives back together (Oh, have I mentioned that they'll be facing more storms today that guarantees tornadoes?!), it's three little words. "Don't walk, RUN!" Take that insurance money and get the hell out of dodge.

But they won't. I know it, you know it, they know it. They won't because, when you grow up small town, it's hard to leave. Your family is there, your friends are there, all of your memories are there. My family died with my mother's passing in 2010. Without her to anchor me there, I found it easier to pack up and come be with my husband. I'd been planning to move anyway, but kept putting it off. Oh, he's on deployment. I'll move when he gets back. That kind of thing.

There are people I miss in my hometown. People that I spent Wednesday morning desperately trying to find out about. But you couldn't pay me to go back to Southern Illinois. Hell, once the kids are college age in my household, my husband and I have discussed our next step. We're moving to Colorado to be with his family. A nice quiet home in the mountains, where my biggest threat is snow storms. Yeah, give me a fireplace and I'm good. If I learned anything from Southern Illinois, it's how to cook a pot of soup over an open fire and keep the fireplace chugging.

My heart goes out to those dealing with the storms, Southern Illinois or not. I know other places got hit too, and I don't feel any less sorrow for them. I wish you all the best of luck in rebuilding and safety from the woes of the world for the rest of your lives. ~ D. F. Krieger


Carolyn Rosewood said...

Prayers going up for everyone affected.

Angelina Rain said...

My heart and prayers go out to everyone affected by this.

I remember you once telling me you came from Southern IL, but I had no idea which part. I hope everyone you know in those parts is okay.

I live in Crook County, IL, so we don't face too many natural disasters. Mainly it's flooding and snow storms. But we do deal with a lot of corruption, unemployment, high taxes, ect, ect. You're so right saying that IL is the Welfare state, it really is. You have a the glamor of downtown Chicago, but besides that, the rest of the state is just crap. And I never really cared for Downtown anyways. I would much rather live in a small town.

Anyway, you did the right thing by moving away from IL. This state keeps getting worse and worse. Lately, a lot of people are moving out because it's so expensive to live here and there are no jobs. I hope to some day be able to afford to move someplace else too. I really want to move to Texas or Colorado. Some place where I could look out my window and see nature, instead of a high traffic street and a bunch of houses.

gayl said...

My thoughts and prayers to everyone touched by this or any disaster. Thanks for sharing this. It really makes the petty BS we often whine about small and insignificant.