Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: January 2009

By Dennis Hinkamp

The joys of staying still.
by Dennis Hinkamp
I found myself responding to a lot of holiday cards and emails this year telling people that “oh yes, I’m still in Logan, Utah.”

I felt like I was apologizing for still being here after 28 years while they had moved on to bigger places, better jobs, a view of the beach, a more liberal climate or whatever there is at the end of our national road trip lifestyle.

When I looked at all the exotic addresses, I started getting that fleeting U-haul urge to box it all up and head down the road myself.

It’s in our blood. From the Mayflower to handcarts to Volkswagen vans, we are the descendents of people who couldn’t stay in one place.

Living more than 28 years in Logan still makes me a newcomer because I wasn’t born here, though I like to tell people that I have become a common law Utahn. How?ever, to everyone other than the natives, 28 years for an outsider makes me seem like someone with no ambition.

Wasn’t I supposed to move up to something better or on to someplace else?

I guess I just I just settled.

Look at it this way: We spend endless hours teaching our dogs to sit and stay; we even reward them for this. Maybe we should take some of our own advice.

“Okay Dennis, sit. Now, stay, stay, stay…Good boy! What a good boy! Now here’s your treat.”

Whatever your treat, be a good boy or girl and discover the joy of inertia.

I have a theory. If you stay in one place long enough, it’s just like moving. If everybody and everything changes around you, it’s just like being in a new place. It’s like very slow time travel to a different place populated by different people.

The joys of staying still are many.

It gives you perspective: I can talk about which was the worst winter — 1980 or 2001? I can remember when Wal-Mart was a cow pasture; I can even remember when there was only one Wal-Mart. The way the economy is going one of those Wal-Marts will probably go back to being a cow pasture.

Staying still allows you to see the patterns: There’s this guy who rides around town all year on his bike honking and waving to everyone he sees… you know the guy. Did you know the guy’s name is Brent?

Then there’s the guy on West Center Street who has more Christmas lights than Temple Square. And that guy who walks around talking to himself as though he’s on a cell phone, but you notice there is no phone.

So yes, I have to say to all my friends and relatives: I’m still here, happily wallowing in the joys of staying still. 

Maybe, just maybe, if we didn’t have this urge to move every three years, we wouldn’t be in this mortgage crisis?

Nah, it couldn’t be that easy.

Even though he doesn’t look that old, Dennis Hinkamp has been in Utah so long he actually had lunch with the state’s last Democratic governor.

This article was originally published on December 31, 2008.