Photography by Julie SaariAngela A.
Bemidji State Park
Here name is not Ashley, nor is it Elizabeth, but her sense of humor is such that she can laugh at you when you mix her name up not once, but yes, twice. That is what I did to Angela (her name is Angela). When I first started reading Angela’s story I thought she had gotten it all wrong. Surely she did not understand the concept behind this project. That is, until I reached the last paragraph, and then I got it. She did understand and she made me remember that not everyone ends up here on good terms. But, Angela also proves that you can make the most of what life gives you, and do it with a smile.
Say hello to Ashley
(her name is Ashley)
My move back to Bemidji was not the smoothest of transitions. Ultimately I had to pack and move 9 years of my life in a trailer, and drive 5 hours “back home”. My uncle and a friend of his had agreed to help me move. However, part way into the journey home, a flat tire happened on the trailer, at night, in a remote village in Wisconsin. Since it was a Saturday night, this town (if you could call it that), had only one place to buy a tire, and yes, they were closed; we were staying the night. The next day, after spending a pretty sum on two new trailer tires, I was optimistic, we were ready to roll and on our way. Three or maybe it was 4 hours later….we finally reached our destination; my apartment. It was a decent little apartment, just on the end of town in Nymore. However, as we were moving in, I made a sad discovery; my couch did not fit through the door, and it wouldn’t. I would have nothing to sit on. However, the piece de’resistance to this glorious day was when I was outside just ready to bring in some boxes when I heard this magnificent crash and shatter! If one can hesitantly hurry…I did so. I was afraid to know what had happened. There stood the helper, my uncle’s friend, over my living room window. Disbelief was the first reaction. How exactly does one large window, fall out of the wall? Well, it just falls out, when you try to open it, apparently. As the evening came to a close, I remember one of my friends saying to me, as I sat on the front steps, “You’re going to cry aren’t you?” I said quite certainly “no”, though I knew it wouldn’t be long before that happened. I had no place to sit in my apartment, and no window, so I said “We’re going out”.
In 2003, I wasn’t coming back to Bemidji at the happiest time in my life, I sort of felt as though I was coming back with my tail between my legs looking for a place to hide. Making the decision to come back to Bemidji wasn’t easy. After all, I was leaving great friends. When one moves back home after life changing events, they don’t have big “welcome home” parties for these types of occasions. What do you put on the banner and balloons? “Happy Divorce”, “Way to go!” What I did know, was that I needed to move on, and “start over”. At least that’s the way I was trying to see it; starting over. For me, starting over meant, Bemidji.
I was born in Bemidji, in 1974. I went to JW Smith Elementary, graduated from BHS, and went to Bemidji State University, before transferring to UW Stevens Point. I lived in various parts of Wisconsin for nearly 9 years. Now, I have been back in Bemidji for 7 years, I honestly didn’t know that would happen. It has now been the longest I have lived in one place since initially leaving! Why do I stay? Family and friends; it is home. You don’t move back to Bemidji for its fashion, or its wealth…there isn’t a lot of that here. I stay because of its isolation, and its opportunity.
Being back in Bemidji, has allowed for me to discover who I am and what I want from my life. It and the people, my friends and my family did welcome me back home after all those years, not with a big party, but with a quite hug that said “welcome home”.written by Angela Anderson
pics by Julie Saari