February 03, 2023

COLUMN: Big city girl goes small town

I feel like I’ve ended up in one of those cheesy romance novels. Big city girl moves to small town as new reporter. Everything is different and chaos eventually ensues.

2023 marked a year of change for me. I graduated from college the week before Christmas, and as soon as the holiday season was over, I was dropped in the middle of nowhere to start my #adult life. On my drive here, I passed signs boasting the birthplace of western movie hero John Wayne and an honest-to-God Christmas tree farm.

Some of the things I’ve witnessed in the last three weeks I’ve only ever heard about in romance novels and Hallmark movies. Apparently “last name” families are actually a thing, and yes, they mostly certainly do own a ranch. Everyone seems to know everyone, and is for the most part ridiculously nice. Sure, I’ve witnessed a bit of that small-town drama I’ve heard about, but nothing has been very serious.

When I first moved in, some people seemed to instantly know who I was before I even started work. “You’re that new girl at the newspaper,” people would comment. Oh boy, I thought, what am I getting myself into?

It’s not like I came from a huge city. I spent most of my life in a town of about 25,000 in Wisconsin. However, the neighboring towns were mostly bigger, boasting a population of 75,000 and a mall that included a Lush and a Crumbl. Similarly, the university I went to was located in a town of about 25,000, not including the 8,000 other students I studied alongside.

Since coming to Iowa, a few small differences have stuck out. Cheese curds have become cheese balls (and no offense, but they aren’t quite as good), ham balls seem to just be glorified meatballs (why are everything balls?), and apparently forensics here is just for the cops (forensics is what we call speech). On the plus side, people here seem more genuine. When I walk into a store or a business, it’s often the owner who is greeting me. Also, I have to fill my gas far less often.

I’m looking forward to the coming weeks and months. Every day I seem to meet someone new and get to know Creston a little better. Now that I’ve unpacked everything, it’s starting to feel a little more like home. I’m just going to pretend the snow came to make me feel more at home, not that snow normally happens here in January. Wishful thinking, I know.

My column will likely spread across a variety of topics, from theater and pop culture to traveling and everything in between. At the time of writing this, I still don’t know what the name of my column will be. Maybe I’ll title it “Untitled” just like all of my poems from eighth grade. I also want to make a public apology in advance for all the editing John and Cheyenne will have to do of my work. I am a passionate Oxford comma user, and am unfortunately not allowed to use those in journalism. In the meantime, you can probably find me playing the Sims, reading or petting random stray cats. Also, this is my official advertisement for a Monopoly buddy.

Erin Henze

Originally from Wisconsin, Erin is a recent graduate from UW-Stevens Point. Outside of writing, she loves to read and travel.