Prior to the Labor Day long weekend of 2022, I still lived in my hometown of Conquest.
As such, my daily routine on any given weekday was largely the same thing.
I'd wake up, I'd hit the shower, I'd change, I'd grab something quick to eat, and I'd drive over to Outlook to go to work at my office. The work day would consist of such and such tasks, or maybe I had something to go and cover or someone I had to go and interview, and then the end of the work day would arrive at around 4:30.
However, I wouldn't go home right then, because I had to wait another thirty minutes for my brother to finish up his work day, and then I'd go pick him up so that the both of us could go back home to Conquest for the evening.
Rinse and repeat for literally years and years. It became the daily routine and something that I became used to very quickly. There would be alterations to the routine at times, like when I'd have an event that I had to cover in the evenings, so my brother would need to find another ride home, but all things considered, we made it work.
At least, that was the case until a year ago. Over the course of that particular long weekend last September, my brother and I, with the very helpful assistance of our other brother, moved to Outlook. It was something that had been desired, wanted, and if I'm being honest, outright needed for some time.
Now, the daily routine on any given weekday operates as such:
I wake up, I shower, I change, and I grab something to drink or eat. I hop in my SUV and cruise over to my office, delighted over the fact that my former drive time of 14-15 minutes starting from Conquest and over grid roads and Highway 15 before arriving in town has now been severely reduced to simply a few blocks. The work day once again consists of such and such tasks, or perhaps I have something to go and cover or someone who I've prepared to interview, and then of course, the work day wraps at 4:30.
Now, I no longer have to wait around if I don't have something else taking up my time. I no longer need to wait so that my brother can finish his work day at 5:00. If I'm done at 4:30, I go home, and I might walk in my apartment at 4:36. Brendon, on the other hand, will be along sometime after 5:00 because now he can simply bike to work, and if he needs to stop somewhere before coming home, he can alter his route and carry out any errands that he so chooses.
Once again, for the most part, rinse and repeat.
Are things different today? Are they routine in any way? Well, yes and no. Yes in the sense that our surroundings are different, but no in the sense that there's still a routine. But if I'm being 100% honest and open, it goes a lot deeper than that for me.
The truth is that I needed to get out of Conquest. I don't use that word 'needed' lightly, either. I NEEDED to not live in Conquest anymore. Now, before I get any letters, emails or messages, please let me preface this by reminding everyone that I loved calling that village home when I was a kid and growing up, and I would tell anyone who listens that living in a very small town such as Conquest when I was a kid helped me develop as a human being and taught me a few valuable lessons about people, life, and the world in general. Maybe a few people who are reading this grew up in other nearby smaller communities such as Milden, Dinsmore, Macrorie, Beechy, or Loreburn, and I think they too would agree; there's just nothing that beats a small town when you're a kid. The freedom, the wide open spaces, the creativity that abounded when you were thinking of what to do on a Saturday night. There's nowhere else I would have rather called home when I was a kid than Conquest for a laundry list of reasons. Many memories through the years continue to make me smile today.
But here's the thing - I haven't been a kid for a very long time. Things change, environments change, circumstances change, and people change. Although I'd already looked at moving to Outlook a few times over the years, the straw that broke the camel's back and confirmed that it was high time to get out of dodge was when my mom died. Lynda Ruttle was the glue that kept me around, and she helped make life in Conquest as enjoyable as it could get at times. But after she died in early 2021, things just took a downturn for me as far as my relationship with my hometown was concerned. I grew to hate the daily grid road and highway drives to and from work (as well as the accompanying fuel bills), especially if the weather was wet and local roads would adopt the stability of a bowl of soup.
I also just always felt like an outsider looking in; me as the Conquest guy reporting on all the Outlook happenings, but then driving home to Conquest for the night. That kind of mentality eventually wears on you, and for me, it was reaching a breaking point. That point just snapped when my mom died, and I just wanted a way out and a fresh start. Luckily, a year ago, I got just that.
Memories are a great thing because they tell us that we've lived an engaging, meaningful, and interesting life. I had great memories of Conquest, but that was just it - they were memories. As you get older in life, priorities change and sometimes those priorities tell you to move on.
Now, as my brothers and I look to sell our childhood home - feel free to reach out if you're interested in a 1330-sq ft, 4-bed, 2-bath bungalow - those memories will be all we have when it comes to Conquest.
At least I can smile at them as I work to create new ones in my life.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.