Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Portrait: Fargo, North Dakota

They say we’re recession proof. They say it doesn’t affect us the way it affects the rest of the country. That may be true but we still see the pain the economy has brought to our country.

I have a steady job with a company that is expanding in a time that other businesses are closing their doors. I’m doing better than most people my age and we have been able to pay down debt with our tax refund this year. However, my husband is a college graduate who has spent the last three months applying for jobs. He has spent hours each day sending out resumes and filling out applications. He estimates that he has applied for over 300 jobs. He has had one interview.

I work for a property management company and each day we see people who are unable to pay their rent. People who move in and then leave two weeks later with only the items they can fit in the car. We see more adults applying to live in each home. We receive more checks from government housing programs. We go to court with more people who are simply unable to pay. Our collections department is busier than they’ve ever been and are getting more disconnected phones than actual answers.

We have been brought to a point that I never thought I’d see; where I am grateful that my husband will be deployed overseas this year. I am grateful for the money he makes while training for his mission and for the extra drills that they’ve scheduled. I am grateful that while he’s gone we will be receiving separation pay and a housing allowance along with his salary for the year. Even as I type these words, my eyes fill with tears for the time he will miss with our daughters. I think of the things our new baby will learn to do while he’s gone and how different she will be when he returns. I think of the entire year of first grade projects and conferences and stories that he won’t be able to enjoy with our older daughter. I think of the outfits they’ll wear and outgrow before he has a chance to even see them. The Christmas and birthday presents that they’ll know I bought without him.

I don’t want to live for even a day without my husband but I am grateful that he is leaving. If this deployment wasn’t pending there would be no chance we could pay the rent next month. We would be moving in with my parents and praying for somewhere to hire us in the new town. Instead of watching the heartache spread around us, we would be living it.

Heather Smith
Fargo, ND