Born Again Minnesotan

Born Again Minnesotan

When I moved to the Twin Cities in 2007, it was primarily to follow love, secondarily for graduate school, and also because I’d been a little lost at sea and something about it was pulling me toward it. Having been a little lost for some time, I’d begun to claim wandering and unattached as part of just who I was. Upon moving here, I pledged to my beloved (not to mention anyone who would listen to my bellyaching): “you’ll get five years out of me, tops,” and was quickly scheming where we’d go once I graduated in two. I had itchy feet that vacations only temporarily quelled. Yet, graduation came and went. Time just kept passing. In between bouts of defeat mixed with revolt that, of course, tended to occur between November and March, I would complain. Complain of how flat it was here, how brown and cold it was, and how stoic and reserved the people were. Blah, blah, blah.

In hindsight, I can qualify the ‘something [good] about this place’ for me, personally, as a very excellent in-law family who adopted me wholeheartedly, and a string of great jobs, but also this phenomenon: “What’s wrong with American cities? is a question that demographers and economists have debated for years. But maybe we should be looking to a luminary exception and asking the opposite question: What’s right with Minneapolis?” wrote The Atlantic in this recent article titled The Miracle of Minneapolis that had me feeling, well, quite justified in my passively, yet clearly, chosen place of home. I like to complain, but there is so much good about my life, and if I’m honest I have to admit I’m quite happy here. Minnesota has been very, very good to me. I have not been lost at sea for quite some time now, thanks to some mix of magic.

This is coming up for me right now because I just went through what I imagine to be my last serious attempt at getting the hell out of here. Relocating didn’t work out, but for about 5 weeks this winter I truly believed it would happen this time. I applied for a loan forgiveness job (where you work for 2 years in an underserved community and the federal government pays your school loans) in a beautiful, small, liberal coastal town in Washington state. My wife, daughter, and I flew out there for my final interview. We tacked on a meeting with a realtor, we researched neighborhoods and pre-schools, and began to price out moving companies. We visited in the dead of winter. The locals apologized for the cold weather but it was only 40 degrees at the coldest. We walked around freely without hats and gloves, thinking we’d found the promised land, and marveled at the emerging crocus, and rain instead of snow upon snow upon ice.

But it didn’t pan out for reasons that aren’t important to go into here and now. What I found at the end of that journey, however, was relief. Profound relief, actually. I likened the experience of the never-ending not-to-be move-away to being like a tape measure on a spring, always being pulled back in, rather than a yo-yo on a string, always rolling away from its coiled origin. The reason for my relief, I think, is that I’ve been able to choose Minnesota as home for, perhaps, truly the first time since I’ve lived here. Active choice is extremely powerful. Active choice allows you to take responsibility of your circumstances rather than just complain, to find the delight in spite of the thorny bits, to simply own your own life at its current state. This is true for me because when things did not work out, my inclination was not to find yet another way to move to the Pacific Northwest – the place I’d thought I needed to move to for many years – my inclination was instead to stay put right here. I now find my neighbors suddenly more endearing, my chosen in-law family suddenly more enchanting, and my string of great jobs suddenly worthy of gratitude.

For the first time since 2007, I am choosing to call this place home. I also am starting to think… Am I a born again Minnesotan?!?

Then, surprise of all surprises, reward of all rewards, last month I landed an equally perfect-fit job right here in St. Paul – nearly exactly the same type of work, also offering loan forgiveness, and 5 miles away from HOME. I start work this week.

My in laws are pretty happy about the surprising turn of events and subsequent revelation. As a previously lost-at-sea kind of person, I know that what I’ve got – home – can be terribly hard to find. Minnesota has been very, very good to me. I think it’s time I was good to it as well.