The class I am taking over J-Term is called “On The Road.” In it, we look at on the road stories from classic movies, literature, and the Bible. We just finished the book “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, and all week we’ve been reading through Genesis, looking at the road stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. But today’s assignment was a little bit different. We were put into groups of 4 or 5 (mine had 5), and we were instructed to drive in a square, stopping at each corner of the square and talk to locals/see attractions/etc. That’s it, there was no more instructions except guidelines for our presentation each group will be showing to the class next week. As mentioned, there were 5 in my group. I think the idea was to form a community within the group. I’m not actually sure how well that went, but we were also to compare our road trip to that which Kerouac writes of. We headed east! Our first stop: Lester, IA. We visited a few places there, including Keith’s Korner (gas station) and the Dutchland Pastries. Did you know they make butterbraids and puffins there? In Iowa? Also, the community was great. Small town, you know. We kept a video journal of the places we went to and some of the people we talked with. Next, we headed north and arrived in Pipestone, MN, where we found a diner to eat dinner at. We didn’t even have to go other places! Just being there and eating at the bar, we learned so much! The waitress knew everything about everybody, and there were some older guys talking in a booth not far away who also knew everything and everybody. After that, we headed west and found ourselves in Wentworth, SD. Wentworth was by far the smallest town we visited, and it was DEAD. The population is 200, but people go to school in other towns and work in other towns. The only people we found were in a church. The two bars there had closed their doors years ago.
A question we had kind of been wondering and asking others is whether a small town holds contentment? Are people happy where they are? Are they restless for a bigger city? Sioux Falls is the smallest city around, but compared to everything else in the area, it really is a city (although that’s argued among some, not people we met on this trip). In the Kerouac book we just finished, the characters were continually restless. In Genesis, people only left if God told them to go; otherwise they were content with where they were. We watched “Stagecoach,” a John Wayne film, and some were actually kicked out of town (reason for their travels). Whether a character is going to or running from a place, they are on the road. A lot of stories we read, see, or hear of elsewhere, in everyday situations, are road stories. But the question remains: small town or city? It probably depends on where you grew up and how you were raised, and there are so many other subjective factors involved.
I have discovered that everywhere is the same. It doesn’t matter what state you are in or how far it is to the nearest Starbucks, the people make the places. There is always somewhere to go, and even if there’s nothing to do in town, there’s always people to be with and talk with. I personally wouldn’t mind returning to a rural life somewhere, just not where my rural life was. But I wouldn’t have to, either. I’ll just wait until God tells me to go somewhere, probably, because I’m pretty content with where I am (both location and life, I think). The Lord promises, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
I have two semesters left with school, and I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing directly after. But after that? I’m still waiting on the big man upstairs. My blogs recently have turned more into conversations and reflections, I guess. No promising they’ll stay that way (see my blog’s subtitle, “Anna’s Random Writings”).
Are you content with where you are? Why? Would you prefer to hit the road and go somewhere else?