When will all of this be over, I thought to myself as I got dressed in my lonely two-bedroom apartment that October morning. The place smelled like stale cigarettes from the lady who lived below me. It was a lonely, cold apartment, circa 1980’s everything. That second bedroom ended up being a catch-all for all the stuff I didn’t feel like putting away because I lived by myself. I never really kept the place perfectly picked up because who was going to see it anyways?
I was a young, adventurous, 23-year old recent college grad who landed a job opportunity of a lifetime, in my eyes. But after a year of doing it, I wasn’t happy. I moved a few hours from home and had no friends close by. But, to be honest I didn’t try real hard to make friends. I already HAD friends. So, every day when I would get home from work, I’d go on a long bike ride to waste some time.
Then, I’d put on my pajamas and cook myself the same boring meal of pre-cooked frozen chicken breast and frozen vegetables in a worn-out non-stick skillet pan that definitely had no non-stick left to it. I was meant to live in this old, run-down apartment the way I looked like a hobo sitting on my couch hunkering over my bowl of freezer meal food. I’d move to the next course, a desert of m&m’s, peanut m&m’s if I was feeling frisky, and I’d binge-watch Gossip Girl on Netflix until I was almost falling asleep on the couch.
They were such bad A, independent women. I wanted to be cool like that instead of sulking in my lonely apartment wishing I could be somewhere else. Anywhere but here. I should’ve moved to Montana when I had the chance, and met a cowboy on a ranch. We would’ve lived in the mountains, riding horses, and hiking beautiful trails every weekend. Those were the thoughts that engulfed my dreams. But the truth is, I was just super lonely and something needed to change.
On the weekends, I’d hop in my truck as soon as I could and buzz north. I’d either head home to see my parents and be on the dairy farm or make the trip further to visit my best friends and bandmates in Minnesota. I’d anticipate leaving that dreadful apartment every day of the week until Friday afternoon rolled around. Then, I was free.
My plan was to head back towards home to work for another year and live in a place where I might choose to grow my own roots. I wasn’t quite sure western Wisconsin was where I’d want to be forever, but I did know one thing for sure, I was done with this place.
That afternoon, I was heading out with a salesperson to a new farm I’d never been on before. The salesman was green, so I wasn’t nervous because I knew if I screwed something up he wouldn’t know any different. At the time, it was my job to support salespeople as they were making seed sales calls on farms. September through December are big seed sales months, so I had been on several farms visiting already.
Every farm I stopped at that fall I had this feeling in my stomach like it didn’t matter. Sure, I can talk about how great our seed is, but I won’t be able to follow up on it anyway. I wasn’t planning to stick around. What I was doing at this point didn’t matter because I was leaving in a month. The sooner I’m gone the better, I thought.
So, as we pulled into the drive of this new farm, that feeling wasn’t any different. Okay, Mary Pat, focus on how great the seed is. Tell them a few hybrids they should try. Give them some info and statistics and then leave. Don’t hint to how NOT excited you are to be here, in Illinois of all places. Jeesh this green seller doesn’t have a shot in heck anyway. And he only got their fertilizer sale because of his bottom-dollar prices.
I jumped out of the truck, dusty cowboy boots on my feet, and trusty seed guide in hand. Took a deep breath and mustered up the courage to put one foot in front of the other with a welcoming smile spread across my face. Maybe they weren’t even home. That’d be the dream. Then we could just turn around and go back towards the office. We knocked on the shop door and nobody answered. Good, I thought.
But this salesman wasn’t going to give up that easily. He started meandering towards the next building over and I felt like a trespasser. Then, I looked up and he was walking towards me… His steel-blue eyes piercing mine from under his Hoyt ballcap. Holy moly, I thought. Who is this handsome devil?