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Column: She's moving on with her life

About a year and a half ago, I ran into Bob Brownawell at a fundraiser of some sort. Bob was a school board member when I started covering Farmington in 1994. We got to visiting about how Farmington has changed over the years.

We talked about the sometimes wacky hours that come with this job, and I mentioned the fact that in order to continue affording to do what I do, I have to work a part-time job. "Single girl plus mortgage equals part-time job," is just something I've grown accustomed to saying.

Then somehow, our conversation turned on a personal note. I made a joke -- a sad little joke really -- about my situation. "Some people raise families, I raise Farmington," I quipped, referring to the years I've spent chronicling the changes this community has experienced.

Bob and I both agreed it was, in fact, a sad little joke. But it's one that's stuck in my mind ever since. So here's the deal: my life is changing. I'm not leaving the Independent, but I am leaving Farmington. And I think it's about time.

One month from now, I'll be moving in with The Beau, in his house in St. Paul. Getting on with my life. Doing what most people my age did 15 or 20 years ago. And I'm pretty excited about it. Apprehensive, sure, but excited, too.

That means I'm moving out of my little townhouse over by the cemetery, where I've lived for the past nine years. I've been a Farmington resident for more than 13 years, so this is a pretty big step for me.

I've been packing and moving boxes to St. Paul since December -- it turns out, I've accumulated a lot of excess in my nine years there -- but the big this-is-for-real move comes the weekend of April 1 (yes, I'm moving in with The Beau on April Fool's Day).

The commute won't be ideal, especially given that gas prices are ridiculously high and are on the rise. It also means a 40-minute drive to and from Farmington, whereas now, the only hold-up in my otherwise five-minute drive comes if there's a few cars lined up in front of me at Dunn Bros. I have a new car with good gas mileage and a decent stereo system, so it could be worse. Plus, I've been making that drive for nearly a year already. Now I'll just be making it on a daily basis.

I'm not enamored with The Beau's neighborhood, I'll be honest. He's a few blocks off of Rice Street, just south of Maryland Avenue, in a circa-1969 rambler. There's a little more police activity in the area than I get over off of Tamarack Trail, but I've met his neighbors several times and they all look out for each other.

I'm excited to have a yard. One where I can plant flowers and vegetables in the ground rather than in containers. I'm excited to be able to hang clothes from a clothesline, too. His yard isn't as big or grand as some of the lots we have down here, but it's more than the postage stamp I have in front of my place.

There are other things I'm excited about, too. Like being less than 15 minutes from the St. Paul Farmer's Market, the Xcel Center, a Trader Joe's and the Minnesota State Fair. One night I was driving up and I spotted the Minnesota State Capitol building, all lit up and glowing in the distance. That was just cool.

And hopefully, once I get a renter, I'll be able to quit my part-time job and spend a little extra time on the things that really matter in life -- family and friends.

I will always have affection for this community. I plan to stay at the Independent, and I'm still a taxpayer so I care just as much as anyone about what happens in our city and school district. I have many dear friends here, and obligations to the American Legion Auxiliary.

But my home will be in St. Paul. With someone I hope to be with for a long, long time. That's probably the thing I'm most excited about. I'm simply moving on with my life.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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