I first left my home in Idaho to go to work in the oil field in Dickinson, North Dakota in the Spring of 2011. Then I went to work in the oil field in Utah, then to the oil field in Texas. In the Spring of 2013, I was back in Dickinson, North Dakota. In the last six years, I think that I have lived in my home in Idaho for a total of less than one year.
My home in Idaho has most of my belongings: books, clothes, bikes, fishing poles, furniture, televisions, DVD players, stereos, vehicles, and trailers. In 2011, I put a padlock on my home office door, and a padlock on the master bedroom and bathroom door, and allowed a friend of mine to stay in my home. My friend was forty-five years old, a clean and tidy person, who mostly kept to himself. He had worked for me in my business. I said that he did not have to pay rent, just feed my two cats, and watch my house while I went to work in North Dakota.
After three months of working in Dickinson, North Dakota, a friend of mine stopped by my house in Idaho and said that the front door to my house was wide open, no one was home, and my front porch had caught on fire. I thought that he was joking, but no, he wasn’t. I telephoned the person who was living in my house, and he admitted that the porch had caught on fire, and that also, he had broken into my bedroom and had taken about $90. I could not sleep that night, knowing everything that was in my house back in Idaho. I left Dickinson at about 4:30 a.m. in the morning to drive back to Idaho to see what the fuck was going on at my house. This caused me to immediately lose my $1,200 per week job in Dickinson. The long time local Dickinson company manager could not understand why I would leave like this, even if someone had set my house on fire and was stealing from my house.
The person staying at my house in Idaho had picked up a stainless steel cook out grille at a thrift store. It had many large vent holes in the bottom of it, and no screen or grating. When the charcoals burned down, they fell through the vent holes and caught my porch on fire. Apparently, no one was around, and the fire burned through some deck boards and went out on its own. I could not care less about the deck boards being burned, I cared that my whole house and everything that I owned could have been destroyed.
Yes, I had insurance for the home and its contents. In order to not feel so freaked out about nearly losing everything, I told myself that I would have had enough insurance money to replace the home and everything. In a discussion with my Good Mormon State Farm Insurance Agent, he cheerfully informed me, “Had I ever collected any money from my friend for rent, even fifty dollars one time, State Farm Insurance would have had grounds to not pay any claim if my home was destroyed.” I asked why, and my State Farm Insurance Agent said, because you rented out your home, at that point you needed commercial renter’s insurance, not homeowner’s insurance. I argued that even if I did receive rent from a room mate, which I never did, he was a room mate, not renting my entire home. My State Farm Insurance Agent said that once I left my home, and went to work in North Dakota, they would consider that I had rented out my entire home to him.
This whole episode of my porch catching on fire from the person watching my home, this person breaking into my bedroom to steal money, me losing my $1,200 per week job by returning home to handle this shit, and my State Farm Insurance Agent informing me that they would try to not pay any claim if my house and its contents were destroyed, ended me letting anyone stay at my house. That is why my house sits empty.
From that day forward, I enjoyed my home much much less. It is like it is not even mine anymore. It and all of its contents can be taken away at any time, it’s not really mine. I almost don’t even want it anymore. What makes it even worse, is that I have only been able to live there less than one year in the past six years, so it’s like it’s not even mine.
For the past 1-1/2 years, I was not able to leave Dickinson, North Dakota to return to my home in Idaho. I could not take enough time off from work to even have enough time to drive back to Idaho and then come right back to Dickinson. I relied on my neighbors to keep an eye on my house and to telephone the police if someone tried to break in. My neighbors do this not because they like me, but because they don’t want me to sell my house. I’m not there, so it is like having a very quiet neighbor. If someone else bought my house, the new family might start riding motorcross motorcylces on the motorcycle track on the property again. This is why the neighbors sometimes take a loader and go take away a jump or a berm, partly because they need the dirt, and partly they don’t want that motorcross track there anymore.
This past week, the person who owns the house where I live in Dickinson, got on my nerves so bad, I finally finally accepted that I have to begin moving my vehicles and equipment back to Idaho. I made the first trip back towing a truck on a car trailer during cold snowy weather, and it was a nightmare of a trip. Plus, driving back I was worried about the condition my home would be in. I didn’t even know if my well pump would still work after not being run for 1-1/2 years, I might not have any water.
When I arrived at my house, the yard didn’t look that bad because there were no tall summer weeds yet. I got out of my truck and looked around to see how everything looked, and if there were any signs of someone having attempted to break in or having done any vandalism. The neighbor’s brown horse and white horse came to the fence with their ears pricked up, and they both stood there staring at me. I don’t know if they were surprised to see someone at my house, or if they remembered me.
The well pump did run, but there were problems with water flow inside the house. There were no signs of anyone attempting to break in the house or doing any vandalism, I was grateful for that. I walked through each room in the house, looking everything over. There was no water damage, and only a small amount of evidence of mice activity. I had left a box of mothballs in every room to keep the mice away, and mouse poison in case the mice did come inside.
I was astonished at how clean and tidy everything was in each room. It did not feel like it was mine. It seemed like a long time ago that I put everything where it was. Some things, I forgot that I owned. I forgot that I had bought a big printer to print out AutoCAD drawings. I had forgotten buying a brown briefcase and a garment bag that were in a closet.
On the second night back in my home, I got cold and I went looking for a blanket. In a trunk I found a worn grey comforter. It was so worn, I remembered that I got it when I was 18 years old, that was 3o years ago. I had it all through college. I remembered the different young girls that sat on it when they visited me in my dorm room. I thought about what else I had in this bedroom. The round wooden table in the corner belonged to my mother’s parents. When I was about five years old, my mother and father got this round table to use as the dinner table. I remember sitting at that table with my mother, father, and sister at dinner, and getting hit for knocking over my glass of milk.
At the other end of the house where I am using a bedroom as an office, I am using another dining room table of my parents as a desk. This dining room table had belonged to my grandmother’s sister. I remember when I was about eight, driving to either Deland, Florida or Sanford, Florida to get this dining room table, chairs, buffet, china cabinet, and mirror. At this table that I am using as a desk, is an office chair that I got when I was an engineering student at the University of Florida. On this desk, there is a glass beetle that I got from my mother when she was in Venice, Italy. There is some kind of ceramic taper/turtle/fox that my mother got when she was in South America or Central America.
An ebony wood figure a girlfriend got in Africa, she was the secretary to the U.S. ambassador in Paris, and very beautiful. A package of assorted dinosaurs that an employers red haired daughter gave to me. A Russian to English translation book that belonged to a famous person’s mistress, his autographed biography to her is in the book case. Many of the pencils, pens, rulers, that I used when I was in college.
It was quiet, completely silent. I thought just briefly, once again, about how bad things had turned out, having to be over in North Dakota. Rather than reflect on how bad North Dakota is, I knew that if it wasn’t for the oil boom in North Dakota, I don’t know what me and everybody else would have done the past six years. I knew that in a day or so I would have to drive back to North Dakota.