Making It Work, Somehow
Stories of the Working West Return to contest page »
A short essay on what working in the West means to me. 22, Monticello Utah.
I recently came to the realization that the job I now have at a cafe is, safe to say, the only job available to me in this tiny town called Monticello, Utah. Imagine being in that position. Imagine risking money, long distance friendships and the respect of family members to move across the country on a whim. To most, I was moving from Orange County, California to the middle of nowhere- void of jobs and (gasp!) no Wal-Mart for sixty miles! The night before I was scheduled to leave for Utah my Grandmother came to me angry and in tears. She told me I was making a big mistake. Sleep be damned, I left right then and cursed her, myself and everyone in my life until the sun came up the next morning somewhere near Flagstaff. Surely, somehow, someway I'd make it work. it's a town for Christsake, there must be jobs. People live there. So why not me?
There are so many reasons why people migrate and settle. Jobs and family come to mind. And then again how many times have I heard someone reply to the question 'What brought you here?' with a quick and defeated sounding 'Hell if I know...' Well, I know what brought me here. I was tired of dreams being nothing more than dreams. I wanted to live. I wanted to make a home someplace where just stepping out the front door took my breath away. I imagined a small town where kids were still kids, where community was a real thing, not just the name of a building where events take place. I wanted to be somewhere in five minutes that would have taken me a day to get to from California. Sage plains, endless canyons, rivers, mountains... I must be dreaming. But no, just living in the West. Working hard at the only job there is to work hard at.
I don't think it's about what work you do so much as it is about what work you have to do to be where you are. To quote the great John Prine from his song 'Angel From Montgomery', 'Just give me one thing that I can hold on to, to believe in this living is just a hard way to go..' Hard but not impossible. Nothing is rewarding unless it's hard. I am holding on to this job and praying that I can work, live and play here in Southeast Utah for as long as possible.