18 June 2010
When I first arrived in Minnesota in 1975, I was lured by the possibility of meeting Mary Tyler Moore. And walking around her lakes, and casually tossing groceries in my cart (at Lund's, I assumed), and possibly throwing my hat in the air on Nicollet Mall (although I never found a mall). I arrived smitten with this place. We approached the city for the first time by driving north on 35W, craning our necks over the top of the front seats so we could see the same exact skyline that Mary sees out of her windshield. I half expected her to be waiting at our house to give us the key and let us in.
Our new neighborhood had giant trees that formed a canopy over my head. And houses with stairs. And basements! And lots and lots of kids riding bikes with banana seats and high handlebars. In the fall (there was a fall!) it smelled like wet leaves..... which sounds like it should smell bad but really smells lovely especially when you know that it doesn't exist everywhere. It was like landing on Mars. I was home.
It turns out I was a Minnesota girl. Not because I was born here and have always made my home here - but because my soul fits this place like a puzzle piece. I need to see a rippling body of water for my system to function smoothly. Take me away from water and I feel like I'm searching for something or trying to fix something. My system gets moody and stagnates.
I feel a kinship with people who give you extra space on the elevator or turn the music down so as not to disturb their neighbors. Outsiders call this passive aggressive but I feel it as an innate sense of respect for others - even others you don't know. As if everyone is entitled to a modicum of respect just by virtue of being on the planet. I'm easily angered by people in other cities who step in front of you as if you don't matter. They simply aren't accustomed to considering others. And I take it personally and consider it my responsibility to show them the error of their ways. My mother once ran after a man who dropped his popsicle wrapper on the ground at the state fair. When she caught up with him, she pleasantly said, "Excuse me.....you dropped this." And handed the refuse back to him. In another city, she would have spoken sharply using words of contempt or judgement. Which would have made the litterer angry and defensive and evermore determined to litter. Do you know what this man did? He took his discarded, sticky wrapper and said thank you. Passive aggressive you say? Maybe. But I think my way is better.
The first time I left Minnesota, I packed my Mazda pickup and my roommate packed her Honda Civic and we caravanned out of the city on our way to graduate school. Instead of heading straight for the highway, I took the long way and led Martha's Honda on a meandering detour around the lakes. This farewell took her by surprise and she navigated Highway 94 through a blur of tears. I suppose I'll re-trace that path on my next leaving.
So I'm learning that nothing is permanent. There is no final destination because the world keeps turning. But that also means that another chapter comes after the next.....and this place will continue to weave itself into the fabric of my life. Every time I leave, I manage to come back. And it soothes my soul to know that this will always be so.