Minnesota is like a warm, cozy sweater.
When I go home, I feel such a deep sense of nostalgia. Love and sadness. I can’t stop calculating the sameness against a myriad of changes, cataloguing my foregone youth.
A kind of surreal, uncanniness permeates, this time heightened by the fact that I hadn’t been home for two years. I hadn’t been to America for two years. Coming back was both shocking and familiar.
Each place a story. Memory triggers on every corner. It all reminds me of things I didn’t even know I forgot.
Everything is layered and filtered through my sense of time, belonging and loss.
Arriving on American’s July 4th birthday, but too late for fireworks, the next morning I met friends for Sunday Bruch. We went to Lord Fletcher’s on Lake Minnetonka, in the posh Western suburbs of Minneapolis. I was met by cheesy hash browns, bacon, an omelet station and walleye fish cakes. The all-American breakfast in the timber cabin, full of bric-a-brac, was so perfectly Minnesotan.
Like a film set.
Coming off jet leg added to the dream-like aura and my sense of being completely home and not at home at all.
Every day in Minnesota the sky hit me with its super blue. So wondrously bright blue punctuated by cartoon fluffy clouds. The weather printing out one perfect day after another.
Perfect days were broken by nighttime thunderstorms, a rare event in my life since I left home. Several nights the sky was pulsing with the most spectacular lightning I have ever seen. High energy storms caused the whole sky to flash on and off, lighting up the neighborhood over and over to the rhythm of thunder and rain.
Every morning the green grass glistened with fresh dew.
The lakes seemed more blue and sparkling. The trees glowing shades of green, tussled by the wind off the water. Growing up I didn’t appreciate the beauty that now assaulted me.
In Minnesota, land of sky blue water, land of 10,000 lakes, you are always going to ‘the lake’, or ‘the lakes’. It doesn’t matter which lake. All lakes are The Lake.
I found myself understanding the appeal of the cozy, closed, round lake, soft rolling hills and flat land.
The city, like the nature, was on full summer display. Colorful, luminous, vibrant.
Minneapolis is a lovely place. People were out in full force enjoying its lakes, parks, bike trails, cafes and rooftop bars. The city was homey and fresh at the same time, offering up my favorite places and new ones. I saw childhood friends and friends from my 20’s. None of us can believe how much time has passed. None of us can believe how 90’s fashion is making a comeback.
I wonder at how we have changed and how we have crystallized those essential parts of ourselves that will likely remain. This mysterious part of myself, some deep part of my consciousness, has lived so many lives and yet is like the constant companion of my ever changing life. We reflect more and more of our true selves. Our past selves like other lives.
Beyond the lakescapes and cityscapes, I spent the summer at my childhood home. There is something disconcerting about being in my 30’s and sleeping in my old bedroom. And I love my parents and appreciated spending time with them. I enjoyed their cable T.V., eating family dinners , the peaceful back porch overlooking the yard and gardens.
I don’t own property. I have no personal home base. My own self is my own true home when I don’t know the who what when where why of any sort of material home.
Somehow, even though I was home for almost six weeks, I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with family and friends as I would have liked. I didn’t make it to the Walker Art Center’s International Pop Exhibit or sculpture garden. I didn’t rent a bike.
One of the things I miss most when living overseas is American breakfast diners. Simple food done well. I looked up City Pages 10 best breakfasts and went to at least five. One of them, Al’s Diner in Dinkytown, was one of my favorites when I went to the University of Minnesota. Since I left they have made it on to Food Network’s “Diners, Drive In’s and Dives”. It was always popular, but now you could wait hours to saddle up to one of its 14 stools. There are no tables.
I listened to the college kids around me and felt old. I read “Apples are from Kazakhstan” to prepare for my upcoming move and waited my turn. It was everything I remembered and more.