I Live On The Way to Someplace Else

2 Jul

When we lived on the island, people would come to visit us. When we lived in West Berlin, people would come to visit us. Now I live in the Southwest corner of Minnesota and no one ever comes to visit unless they’re on their way to somewhere else.

The good thing about this is that even though my own town has very little to recommend it to those in search of adventure, it is at least very close to a major east-west route across the United States and so people DO stop sometimes, at least long enough for dinner. It also means that I have no fear of anyone staying so long that they’ll begin to smell like fish…right, Benjamin Franklin? (He is the “fish and company begin to smell in 3 days” guy, right?)

The bad thing is that it gets a little lonely.

Well, this week I benefitted from living on the way to somewhere else in that one of my good college friends, Jen, stopped by (on her way to South Dakota) with her three nice boys and sweet wee girl for lunch, and we had a lovely time. She and my friend Susan last summer are the only ones who have ever stopped. THANK YOU!!!*

So, as I was mentally preparing for a rare visit from a friend, I got to thinking about what I remember about Jen, circa our college years, 1988-1992. Here’s my list: (I remember a little more, but this will do to be going on with.)

Jen and her lovely kiddos!

Jen and her lovely kiddos!


1) She chugs ½ and ½ straight from the tiny restaurant coffee creamer containers when you find yourselves at Perkins at 11:00p.m., on a study break while in college. (She probably does this anytime, that’s just the first time I remember witnessing such a thing.)
2) She has a tremendous laugh. And when I say “tremendous” I mean truly spectacular. So wonderful that a complete stranger came up to us in a busy restaurant and gave us all free cassette tapes of his music (this was 1992) simply because he liked her laugh.) It’s an awesome tape – I even bought the CD years later!
3) She is sole accessory to the fact that I had ONE all-nighter in college – what we were studying for I have no idea, but we managed to last – all night in the cold basement of her dorm…
4) She used to drive a yellow 1960’s-era Ford Mustang. I am not a car person, and never will be, but even I thought that was a cool ride.
5) She wears bright red lipstick. And when I say “bright”, I mean like a stoplight, cops pulling you over, redder than a fire engine.
6) She is adventurous, funny, kind, wise, interesting, steadfast in her friendships and beliefs.
7) She is a good companion (along with another friend, Danielle) on a road from Oregon to Colorado and back again. She is also a good companion for going on a Senior Year Spring Break Week-Long Extravaganza (along with two other friends) when we went from Eugene, Oregon, to her parents in Salem, OR, to our friend Cindy’s parents in Gig Harbor, Washington, to our friend Marti’s parents in Auburn, WA, to Orcas Island, to Victoria, British Colombia, Canada, for a night, then back to WA, OR and ultimately got back in time for class on Monday morning.
8) She likes to sleep in, in the morning. So if you ever go on a road trip with her, keep this in mind.
9) She likes to sing and does it well.
10) She likes to play cards. I, who grew up in a family where Scottish Grandparents instilled the belief into their daughter (my mother) that card-playing was wicked, didn’t know how to play cards and found the whole thing suspicious. I missed out on a lot of Jen-time because of it. Sadly.

So that’s my Top Ten of Jen!

Jen and me.  :-)

Jen and me. 🙂

We had a lovely visit – our kids seemed to like each other and got along, and it was great seeing Jen in Mom Mode, as opposed to carefree college kid (I’d seen her a few other times since college, but this was the first time with all her kids). It’s always so good to catch up with a friend – and even more fun to do so way out here in the boondocks of our home.

We may not live in France or England or even New York, but if my friends come to visit us out here on the prairie, I promise you won’t be sorry.

Note I said friends. Mosquitoes are not welcome.

*I do have to give credit to a few people who, over the 16 years we’ve lived here, have come JUST SO SEE US. Stacey and Margaret, my husband’s aunt and uncle, and my sister. It’s a special feeling to know that people are driving a few hours (or flying) JUST FOR YOU, isn’t it?


18 Responses to “I Live On The Way to Someplace Else”

  1. treadlemusic July 2, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Oh, my dear, Gretchen!!!! There has to be a way for us to get together! I90 connects us both! You in the S.W. corner and me in the S.E. corner (due west of LaCrosse). We need to “make plans”……and, maybe include some others from this “neck of the woods” (except, I don’t think you have a lot of ‘woods’ near you!!!). Hugs, Doreen

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 2, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Ha! Not a lot of woods, no! 🙂 but yes, I think that would be very fun. I will be in Rochester the first weekend in August. I know that Audrey has some plans already for then, but she said she might be able to fit it in…and Beth, too, said she’d check into it.

  2. Africa far and wide July 2, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    We have the same trouble – everyone wants to come to Mozambique for a tropical holiday but we live in a non-event place that is a swamp during the summer months and a sooty, dustbowl during the winter months. Result is ‘we’re just passing by!’ And usually after a meal – but a good thing about our social African society is that we’re usually close enough to gate crash their holiday! It can work both ways 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 2, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

      🙂 Yes, it can! And I understand that there’s not a lot to bring a person to the prairie…so I try not to hold grudges! It’s just lovely when it works out that it’s on someone’s way somewhere!!

  3. Shanda July 2, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Loved the reminiscing:)!

  4. Tami Scott July 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    That was priceless!

  5. Hotly Spiced July 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    How lovely for Jen to have a daughter after having three boys! That’s a lovely photo of the two of you. How wonderful to have company. I’m glad some people have taken the time to stop by and visit – I can imagine it getting pretty lonely xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

      It especially is lonely at times when I know my family is together elsewhere. But it makes the times when family or friends come all that much more special! Yes, I imagine that wee girl was very appreciated when she arrived!

  6. Katherine Edman (Katt Rankin) July 2, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Thank you for that , Gretchen! I miss Jen, Marti, you, Shanda…and soooo many others too!
    Cleveland Ohio is a place that is rarely a ‘on the road to someplace else’ or even a destination place. Come visit and look me up…would LOVE to catch up!
    Miss and loved our time together in Eugene!!!!!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      I know, we had a wonderful time in college, didn’t we? So many friends and so much support. I’m so glad that you took the time to read the post! I used to have relatives in Cleveland, but never did visit them there. Maybe someday I just will surprise you!

  7. gardenfreshtomatoes July 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Having lived in both Orlando and two towns over from Newport RI, I’d prefer to be “on the way to somewhere else” 🙂
    So wonderful to have long-time friends come to see you!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Yes, there are advantages on each side, for sure! And yes, it was indeed lovely. So good to catch up in person – especially in this day and age of virtual reality!

  8. Minnesota Prairie Roots July 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Last Friday/weekend in July, maybe, dear Gretchen.

    What a great friend you have in Jen.

  9. jenandasd July 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I beg your pardon… who has come out THREE times! YES THREE!!! And the first time we were not on our way anywhere other than our first stop in ND.

    • jenandasd July 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

      Actually make that four times, Beth and I came out nine years ago… on our way through! 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell July 16, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

      YOU and Nathan definitely qualify as coming just for us, you are right. I am SO SORRY!!! You and Beth and You and Patrick and Nathan kinda qualify, true. 🙂 Goodness. Sorry!!!

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