Growing up in Wadena


I’m not going to lie—I hated growing up in Wadena. I couldn’t stand a thing about being a kid (except: Fear Street, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Daria and the X Files) but I kind of feel this is the plight of youth.

You hate your parents, your friends, the opposite sex, school, and just want to escape it all. Well, at least I did. So I did-escape, that is-after graduating high school. I moved to the cities to attend college.

Wadena is one of those places you grow to appreciate once you don’t live there anymore. Living in the city since 2001 has made me miss a lot of things about my hometown. And it’s made me reflect on the whole growing up experience a lot fonder than it seemed the first time around.

I enjoy going home for the holidays now, because Wadena is home, and home never changes. It is safe and stable, and just the sort of thing I need, living my fast-paced, every frantic, ever-changing life in Minneapolis. It’s calm there…I can relax, and just pause for a minute. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be anything.

I’m just Crystal Erickson, daughter of Dale and June, who used to work at so-and-so and hung out with him-and-her and did-this-and-that when I was a teenager.

Whoever I am now, it doesn’t matter, I’ll always be that awkward, quiet, angry-yet-smart kid everyone knew from high school, the town gossip, or whatever else I don’t remember about myself anymore, but is the only thing people who didn’t know me at all think of upon hearing my name.

Maybe that should offend me, but it doesn’t. People in Wadena knew me before my life changed, before I changed. So, in Wadena, I can be the daughter and friend of so-and-so, and that’s all I need to say. I don’t have to wow anyone. It’s nice. It’s home. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

But the world changed it. Well, a tornado did, and now it will never be the same. I’ve been haunted by my hometown getting hit by a tornado since it happened on June 17. I actually had a dream about it last night. There were funnel clouds right on top of me, and I just couldn’t escape them. There was no refuge, and nowhere to hide.

There’s no place like home, like Dorothy in the classic The Wizard of Oz famously stated, as she tried to seek refuge from a tornado herself.

But now, thanks to a tornado that hit my hometown, it’s really true for me, and every resident of Wadena. There’s no place like home, because this isn’t supposed to happen to ‘home.’ Home isn’t supposed to change-it shouldn’t be thrown around, knocked down, torn apart, destroyed and erased.

Wadena no longer seems like home, and I hate it.