To me John Mellencamp said it best in one of his songs, "I can breathe in a small town."
That is how I feel about Calumet. I've lived here going on 13 years. That's the most time I've ever lived in one spot. Growing up, I lived in several places. It seemed that my family moved every year. It wasn't until I was in high school that I lived in the same house for more than three years. Most of my early childhood we lived in Cherokee, but around the age of 11 we moved to Minneapolis, Minn.
Surprisingly, I took to the big city (or rather cities, St. Paul, was right next door) and for the next four years I experienced life in a way that I could never imagine when I was in Iowa. However, when we came back to Iowa, I knew I was home.
I have nothing against the big town (again Mellencamp), but I always felt comfortable in a rural community. I came to that conclusion in my early 20s. Back then I would travel as much as possible. Hitting the road was an obsession of mine. I don't know how many miles I put under me. At a drop of a hat I would take a road trip anywhere.
I've seen the Rocky Mountains, been through magnificent deserts, drove across the Great Salt Flats in Utah, experienced the grandeur of Texas, and saw the breath-taking wine country of California. I've even been to New Jersey. I've crossed this great country from coast to coast a few times and been to a lot of cities.
My adventures have allowed me to swim in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Gulf of Mexico and a few of the Great Lakes.
Back then I was on a quest, a quest for what I didn't know at the time. I was definitely looking for something. Then one day somewhere in the western United States, it hit me.
I was looking for a place to make my home.
I have friends who live in more populated parts and it boggles their minds that I chose to live in a town that has 168 people in it. In their own way they're saying that, "hey, don't you know that there is more out there than what's in you little town?"
What they don't know it that I've seen it. Like I said, I've been coast to coast and I can honestly say that there is nothing in this country more beautiful to me then Northwest Iowa and Calumet is right in the middle and were I wanted to be.
If I need a city, I'm a short drive away from both Sioux City and Sioux Falls. If I want some fun I can be at the Iowa Great Lakes in 45 minutes. My commute to work is only 20 minutes away; try that in a city, you can spend that much time at a stoplight.
I've lived in apartment buildings that have more people then all of Calumet, but here I can turn up my radio as loud and I want at 3 a.m. and don't have to worry about the neighbors. At night I can walk outside and see the stars, and what a view they are! A view like that is something you'll never get in any city.
Most weekends I experience the countless county parks around this area. There I can enjoy hiking, camping, grilling, drawing, painting, photographing or just kicking back. It's a quiet and surreal life and not a bad way to live.
That's what I found on those trips, not just were I wanted to live but how. Living in Calumet has become my center in more ways then one.
For me Calumet is not just another small town in Iowa but it is where I made my home.