Life is nothing more than a revolving door of people in and out of your life. Williston is a constant reminder of this. People come and go on a frequent basis and without warning in this Boom Town.
There was a regular in the Lounge named West. He was one of my favorites; always sat in back at the blackjack table, drank Coors Light in a bottle, and let me harass him to my hearts content. He was in just about every weekend since I started. He was a lot of fun. Well, West fulfilled his monetary goal and decided to head back to his home and family back in Idaho indefinitely. He decided to spend his last weekend in North Dakota with us at the Lounge. I considered that a privilege and decided to “forget” to put a few beers on his tab and offered to be his DD for the night so he could go all out.
When my coworker and I dropped him of at the Haliburton mancamp, he handed me twenty bucks. I refused to take his money for the ride and reassured him that I was more than happy to do it. But he said, “Ashley, I’ve been here and made my money. I’m doing well. I want you to have this. I’m going to miss you and remember to not take any shit from anyone.” What an awesome dude. I’m going to miss West!
His parting was bittersweet for me for a few reasons. First, I hated to see him go but glad he was able to get back to his family a few bucks better for the wear. I was also glad to see he actually reached his goal. It gives me hope. But it’s also a reminder that, say for the locals, there are very few of us that are here in Williston to fulfill a lifelong career. It’s a boom and bust economy in every sense. Get in, get yours, and then get out.
It makes it difficult to make any deep seeded roots here. I have made some connections with great people and there is this unspoken bond that we’re all in this fight together. Williston is like the island of misfit toys which promotes a certain sense camaraderie. And the people who end up making meaningful connections, although in some cases brief, create a very interesting family dynamic. I know that there are a handful of people in my life out here who would go to bat for me and come rescue me should the need ever arise. As I would for them. Most of us are so far removed from our families and our old lives that it’s nice to know there are people we can count on and to be counted on here. I’m thankful for the many great people here in Williston fighting this fight with me.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the people who come into our lives in general. I went back home to Michigan last week and got to see many friends and family members. I miss them SO much! A part of me wanted to give up on my quest and just curl back up in my old comfortable life surrounded by the people who love me. But I realized that it’s the sacrifice that I must make in order to have the life I want. They’ll still love me even though I’m 1300 miles away and they are always just a phone call away. As I was traveling back I saw two gentlemen who were on the plane ride out of Williston with me, we started talking like we were old friends. “How was your trip?”,”How’s the family?”, “Ready to be back in Williston?”, etc. I don’t even know these men apart from our 4 hour delay in Williston but yet I was glad to see them and to catch up. Which got me to thinking that the time in which people pass through your life is irrelevant. Whether it’s 4 hours, 4 years, or 40 years. What matters is the human connection and what you can bring to each other’s lives.
So the next time you’re in a hurry and someone talks to you… take a second and listen. Because by you being kind and thoughtful, you may make their day. You just never know what you can bring to someones life just by being open and willing to share. I say this over and over and some of you who know me well probably get annoyed by my philosophical rants, but life is too short, my friends. You only live once and cherish each and every encounter you have with the human race and mother nature. I’m no doctor but I promise you, you will have a much richer life as a result.