There are places of residence which come to mind at the mention of contentment. Williston, North Dakota is not one of those places. Although some of the stories which have been told about the oilfields are greatly exaggerated, there is no exaggeration in saying that the main goal in the oilfield is to be out of the same. In this sense, these barren plains are strangely similar to a prison; for while there are no walls to hold men in, no bars to prevent their escape, yet the walls and bars of the mind hold them as effectively as any institution.
This prison of the mind affects the language and conversation of the oilfield. For example, in any other Walmart, a conversation in the checkout line may touch on topics like the weather or the local sports team. In Williston’s Walmart Supercenter, the only topic discussed is who is leaving and when. No one moves away from Williston; they all go back home.
All men are transients here, and yet despite their misgivings, they keep coming back. And what else would they do? The lure of the oilfield is nigh irresistible. Business is booming, and if there is one thing that can tear a man away from everything he ever loved, it is the promise of a little bit more of what he loves, a little bit sooner. This is the prison that keeps men here; a strong, yet delicate tension between satisfaction and desire, gratification and delay.
This was the first installment of my 31-day writing spree. At 249 words, it is over twice as long as my original 100-word benchmark. Not bad for the first day. Happy May Day, and thanks for reading!