There is nothing about it that belongs amidst a sprouting development in West Fargo, yet there it stands, white paint chipping, old wood fading with time. Surrounding it, tall grass, big trees and an orange tractor that looks like it hasn’t budged for 50 years. Spare, rusty wheel rims lean against it. Parked out front: three old cars built sturdier than anything they’ll dream of making in my lifetime. They brim with stories of family vacations, trips into town and ventures down gravel roads.
It’s the perfect setting. Absolutely perfect.
The barn latches on to its character in a space closing in on it. It belongs on several acres off a back road 40 miles out of town, but just outside its property lines is a frenzy of fresh roads, oversized plastic mailboxes and rapidly erecting homes. It’s an old soul in a new and shiny corner of the world. Out of its element. A complete misfit.
Regular readers have read that I feel I’m living in the wrong generation. This explains why my interest is piqued with this structure and who owns it. Is the owner more stubborn than me? Are they digging their heels in like I imagine (and hope) they are, not letting anyone tell them what they’re going to do and when? Has this person possibly refused to let outsiders’ decisions dictate their life?!
If so, where are my pom-poms and how do I get in touch with this person? I’d happily hop in their ’65 Galaxie and ride to the most fitting small town café where we’d park it on squeaky, spinning bar stools and sip on 1919 root beers, talk about our old-school lives in an uber-modern world and how we feel we’re doing with our refusal to get with the times. I’d love just an hour or two to look into the eyes of another person totally focused on simpler times and the beauty in uniqueness. Someone who values life outside of technology, television and pop culture. A person who hasn’t stepped in line and marched full speed ahead on what seems to be most recent life motto… where everyone does it because everyone is doing it.
Like the Smartphone craze and the belief we can’t live without it (and that anyone who tries is crazy). The desire to upgrade everything we own past the point of being able to afford it. Getting a flu shot, not because we feel it’s the right thing to do, but because… well… everyone else is. Cheering for the Bison because… well, isn’t that what people here do?
I look at my own unwillingness to get with the times (i.e. I was using a flip-phone until a few weeks ago), and watch people’s reaction. It doesn’t go over well. Eyes are rolled, people try to insult me, and are sure to point out I am the ridiculous one.
Maybe I am.
But when I point out the faults of Smartphone ownership, I can see their layers of pride shed as I ask how much time is spent on it. What is that time being robbed from? How much is it costing? Does constant access to your email really make you happier? How do you actually feel being “on-call” via your phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for friends, family, and work 24/7, rather than making the person in front of you a priority?
And don’t tell me you need it for business, because I know for a fact from watching my remarkably successful (and fellow old-school) attorney father run his own business, that a cell phone – or even voicemail for that matter – is not what actually makes a business successful.
So, I might be a little stuck in my ways. My feet might be blistered from dragging them and my heels raw from digging in. I might have too much emotion invested in this old building, but there’s a reason it hasn’t been bulldozed yet.
Someone stepped out of line.
And because of it, this barn may possibly sustain its life, going untouched as the world buzzes on around it. Let’s hope someone has seen the value and won’t let the fact that it simply doesn’t belong take over. It deserves to be kept and to serve as an incredibly refreshing, unique and captivating attraction. A monument of tranquility in a far too busy world.
Shootin’ the Wit is a sporadic blog about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.