Posted by womanabouttown | Posted in Church, Moving, Restaurants, Willmar | Posted on 02-02-2012
Tags: Barn Theater, church, moving, race relations in Willmar, restaurants, WEAC, Willmar
I am new to Willmar, MN, having moved here 11 months ago from the Twin Cities, which is two hours east. I moved here to live with my new husband. It was an easy decision for us to live here in Willmar rather than the Cities. After all, he has deep roots here and had bought his family farm a couple years prior. So now, I am a farmer, or at least a farmer’s wife aspiring to be helpful at the farm.
My husband grew up here and has interesting anecdotes about Willmar’s history , or observations on ways that the area has changed, even if it’s simple comments like “The Barn Theater used to be right over there” as we make our way through SW Willmar. It seems commonplace for Minnesotans to spend their whole childhood in one place, but it’s rather foreign to me. I grew up mostly in California and Utah. I moved to a Minneapolis suburb two weeks before my senior year of high school. Say it with me: “Yikes.” But that was 24 years ago.
I‘m a little envious of those of you who were never uprooted during your youth. You have grown up alongside your compatriots – from kindergarten to high school graduation – and now have life-long friends. Your development seems a little more seamless this way, as the energy spent on presenting yourself is much less when you can simply continue as is, compared to being plopped into a whole new environment and suddenly feeling like you’re on display and must prove yourself. As a young newcomer, you may want to continue from where you left off in your former location, hit the ground running, but you can’t – you have to start all over again. And sometimes that’s good – you can re-invent yourself, try things you wouldn’t necessarily consider in your old stomping grounds. Another advantage of moving is that it’s an adventure. Plus, you can compare differences and similarities between people of different regions, which widens your perspective. However, when you’re a teenager, you sometimes don’t want to be the “new girl” since you’re already supremely self-conscious. You want to blend in with your peers.
Fast-forward to now: Moving to a new place as an adult is a whole different thing. For one thing, you’re not suddenly thrust into a big building with 1,000 strangers, akin to high school. And moving is your own choice at this point. But beyond that, you’re not as self-conscious as an adult. You’re more comfortable in your own skin and you don’t feel so scrutinized. Plus, I only moved 2 hours away – big deal, right? Moving from a big city to a small city/big town might sound like it would be an adjustment, but it’s really not. I don’t need an exciting nightlife or great shopping in order to be happy. I would probably feel different if I was in my 20’s, or if I was single and looking for ways to meet guys. But I’m not. My husband and I are happy, and we’re content to stay home most evenings. But I am, of course, trying to get to know Willmar people.
Most of the people I have met in Willmar have been members of my new church, Calvary Lutheran. These people have been very welcoming. They are so thankful and gracious when I help out with church events or Sunday School. I really enjoy running into people I have met since moving here. And I am impressed with the many ways to get involved in the town, from volunteer opportunities and town meetings to entertainment venues. I want to take advantage of all that the area has to offer, and I believe that writing this blog will serve as an impetus to do so. I look forward to writing about my adventures.
My husband and I recently went to a town meeting on understanding the Somali community. We ran into several people we know. I felt so proud to be sitting amongst people who want to roll with the changes in Willmar and its increasing diversity. As one lady commented when she raised her hand “This is the best thing to happen to Willmar in 10 years.” Bravo to the leaders of the Somali community for setting up this meeting and addressing people’s questions and concerns. I hope there will be many more opportunities for learning and for open dialogue.
Out and About
Regarding getting out, my husband and I like to eat out on occasion (Who doesn’t?), and although Willmar could use a nice, independent restaurant, I have enjoyed what is here. I have discovered Willmar’s Erbert and Gerbert’s, a sandwich place that I never visited in Minneapolis. And we like eating at McKale’s in New London, and Blue Sky in Spicer. I have been meaning to go to the Garden of Eating in Grove City – perhaps I will visit and review the restaurant soon. Have you tried the monster cookies at Cashwise? Good Lord, they are fabulous. As far as arts and entertainment, we plan to see performances at WEAC (Willmar Education and Arts Center) and the Barn Theater. I am surprised how little those 2 venues advertise. It was actually a little difficult to find out information on WEAC events – It’s listed under West Central Concert Series, or www.westcentralconcertseries.org.
Of course, there are some annoying things that I have experienced since living here. Customer service isn’t always so great. Some local businesses and bureaucracies don’t return phone calls, even after I have left more than one message. Or they don’t have voicemail to begin with. These businesses apparently have all of the customers they can handle, or they don’t need return business. Grumble grumble. In person, however, just about everyone has been very friendly.
I predict more venting as well as cheering in future posts. Stay tuned.