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From One In A Million To One In 9,100

June 8, 2017
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

When I first moved to Emmetsburg, I was concerned that it was going to be too small for me. I was worried that I'd experience culture shock, but within 3 months of moving to town, I was ready to buy a home and stay for the rest of my life.

I grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia- a suburb of Washington, D.C. Fairfax is a county of a million people and growing. My high school had 4200 students all in one building; I really was just another face in the crowd. My father commuted 20 miles into Washington, D.C. everyday- on a good day, it took him an hour.

My journey to Iowa began before I was born. My mom grew up in Estherville, she attended Grinnell College, and my parents were married at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Estherville. My family visited Okoboji every summer growing up. I always felt a sort of kinship with Iowa- it's where I'm meant to be.

Since my time in Virginia, I've slowly downsized- from Fairfax I went to Cedar Rapids, from Cedar Rapids I moved to Spirit Lake, and from Spirit Lake I came to Emmetsburg. I can honestly say that I love Emmetsburg more than anywhere else I have ever lived.

My husband, Joe, grew up in Emmetsburg- his family lives less than 10 blocks away from our house. We can walk our dogs over whenever we want and eat whatever goodies Marit baked that day. I have never been able to walk to a friend or family member's house.

The people of Emmetsburg are so incredibly friendly. Strangers wave me at me on a daily basis. In Virginia, people often signal you with a certain finger instead. The driving in town is sane. People are cognizant of stop signs and traffic lights, and drivers will wave pedestrians on without hesitation.

Iowa has the best thunderstorms. I love it when thunder reverberates through the house, shaking the foundation. In Virginia, the miles of housing developments and tall buildings hinder the sound waves.

Growing up, I always complained that there was nothing to do. Maybe that's your typical teenage sentiment, but hearing my husband's stories of his adolescent adventures has made me feel like I missed out on some formative experiences.

I grew up in a world of 9/11- I could see the Pentagon fires light up the night sky. For a month, I had to walk home from the bus stop in a zigzag in case the D.C. sniper had me in his sight. We had to check our mail for white powder in case Anthrax had officially been released into the postal system. Emmetsburg is safe. Joe grew up in a world where he returned home when the streetlights came on, and he was allowed to walk to the park all by himself.

While I realize I sound negative about my childhood home, I think it's because I've always been an Iowan at heart. While I never have any desire to move back to Fairfax County, it is definitely someplace I recommend visiting. Washington, D.C. is only a Metro ride away, and there are a ton of great eateries and shopping.

I appreciate Emmetsburg for all it has to offer. I have never felt more at home at any place in my life.



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