I’ve been having this internal debate as of late: What’s So Bad About Fargo, Anyway?
Last weekend, I went to a birthday party hosted by my friend Asraa. Her children (how crazy is this??) have the same birthday – Ahmed just turned 2 and Azal, 5. They are New Americans who moved from Iraq to Fargo about a year ago, and when they say party, they are not kidding. I sat in a living room filled to the brim with women and children, all chattering away to each other in Arabic and broken English (to me, Hadley, and the one Iranian woman who spoke Farsi). We laughed and danced and ate the most delicious Middle Eastern feast I have ever seen while the men ate and smoked and played a board game (the name of which I can neither pronounce nor remember) in the basement. It was wonderful. Seriously. Could be up there with one of my Favorite. Experiences. Ever.
So there I was, sitting in this room with these women I could not understand, having this amazing cultural experience, and it occurred to me – I am in Fargo.
Fargo, the place I hate. The place I can’t wait to leave. The place that one friend told me I needed to get the heck out of. The place another friend told me he feared I would never leave if I stayed past this year.
But why is Fargo so bad? Why does no one think twice about a person who grows up in Chicago never leaving Chicago, but a person who grows up in Fargo and never leaves is one who never takes risks? Why is it more of a risk to move somewhere where you might be surrounded by people who are like you, than to stay somewhere where you have to hunt out the relating few?
I don’t really have an answer. The truth is, living in Fargo feels like Death. But what if I’m missing something because I’m so busy planning when I can leave? What if I could have an impact here? What if I could change the way people think? What if I could suck it up and actually learn to love and risk and serve and change, right here, in Fargo?
Really, what’s a few more years?
And why – when I ask that – do I cringe, just a little?