Many of my friends have relocated elsewhere in the country. I have places to stay in Madison, Denver, San Fransisco, DC, Chicago, Wichita, and that's just to name a few! I have listened as they met new people, found their church home, discovered new restaurants and hidden treasures in their new hometowns, and built families far away from Minnesota. Still, I am here. I grew up here- about 4 miles from my current house- I went to college here- about 4 miles from my current house- I started teaching here- about 4 miles from my current house. Hmmmm... I feel like I've lived my live in a 16 mile square. Nothing about Minnesota seems new or exciting to me anymore. I don't want to battle traffic around Lake Calhoun just to take a walk with my baby! The Mall of America makes me a bit carsick. Road construction, humidity, and 9.5 months of cold are a lot to take. I'd love a good "safe" adventure and Abe and I have talked about how exciting it would be to start over somewhere- to discover new restaurants because we have to, we don't know where anything is; to find a group of people who would be like an extended family because ours would be so far away.
My husband's heart is in Minnesota; our families are here; my job (which I really love) is here; we have an amazing church home here; we have dear friends here.
Is this a case of "the grass is always greener"? Am I just envious of the excitement that my friends have as they discover new places and treasures wherever they are? Am I just envious of their joy?
Sometimes it's hard to separate yourself from who you were and who you are, or strive to be as an adult. I read somewhere that people fall back into the roles they occupied in their family as they grew up whenever they return home. I don't want to do that! I wasn't happy in my role in my family. My family is wonderful, fun, quick-witted, spontaneous, serious, sarcastic, argumentative, and so much more. I am beyond blessed to have been born into this basket of nuts! :) But, I am very different than most of my family members and I always felt a bit "misunderstood". It's hard to get over that as I get older. I still feel a bit misunderstood. So, I think I've taken that on in my apathy towards Minnesota. I don't feel like I have the opportunity to re-invent myself, or even be separate from who I was, or mistakes I made in the past.
Really it comes down to this: I am a people pleaser. I struggle with wanting to be authentically me, knowing what that authenticity looks like, and concern that I won't be accepted for who I am. Because of that, because I've worked really hard in the past to be all things to all people- if I really let my guard down and am honest with myself and others- what if it's so different than what they think I should be, what they've experienced me to be, that our relationship suffers? All that to say, "what if they don't like me for me?" "What if I'm not as cool as I thought I was?" :) If I were to start over, then it would be easier to lose a relationship that started 10 minutes ago vs. 10 years ago- and I still have to see all these people all the time, because we're not going anywhere! If I could start fresh, then I wouldn't be losing out on history with friends, colleagues etc. Does all this rambling make sense to anyone? Hello? Are you out there?
It is enticing to go where no one knows you, no one pre-judges you based on your past history, and you have a chance to "do things right". Live life intentionally.
Running away is not the answer. Why maintain relationships that are built on something false at the expense of authentic relationship? If people really wouldn't be "pleased" with me, then why am I so concerned with maintaining a relationship with them? I live in an amazing place and I don't need to leave to come home to my soul. I need to surrender my pleasing antics and thicken up my skin, so to speak. Get a bit more of a "take it, or leave it" attitude. Why does it matter if people like me or not? Am I really that afraid of being alone? Do I really need that much of a change to find my authentic life? I'm transferring all this emotional stuff to my feelings about Minnesota.
As enticing as Colorado, Georgia, the East coast, or West coast may be, I have a wonderful husband, beautiful baby girl, lovely, safe, sturdy home, great job, good friends, nearby family, church home and great neighbors. In truth, there is so much here to be thankful for- and so much that I need to discover anew in my long-time home: Minnesota. So, in honor of a "safe" adventure- I'm going to try to see Minnesota through new eyes.
Exciting "new" discoveries about/in Minnesota:
1. The Tea House in Plymouth. If you haven't been here, go. It's terrific. They have a Szechuan menu that is to die for! When we lived right across the street from it, Abe and I used to get the boiled beef in Szechuan sauce or the Szechuan pork. So good. It'll burn your face off, but seriously, go already... GO!
2. White Bear Lake. I love walking around downtown White Bear Lake. It's a charming area, with older buildings, fun shops, unique restaurants, and a beautiful fountain. I feel like I'm in a different area of the country- the charming south or the picturesque east coast. It's always decorated for the seasons, filled with local farmer's markets, music festivals, and fun activities for the kids- I know I'd write home about this if I were somewhere else.
3. The Minneapolis Farmer's Market. I know there are farmer's markets everywhere but for some reason, I love the Minneapolis market off of Lyndale. It's full of great smells, interesting people, delicious food; I mean, come on! Where else can you get a loaded brat first thing in the morning on a Sunday? That, along with a giant cinnamon roll and coffee is the perfect breakfast. I love shoving Gemma in the Mobi Wrap and walking slowly with Abe through the vendors.
4. Cosetta's Italian Restaurant and Market. Downtown St. Paul on W. 7th. Go. Right. Now. Step away from the screen. If they are not open, start a line. Get the Mostaciolli con Ricotta, a bottled orange soda (or wine or beer, if you're in the mood) and a side caesar. Prepare to discover heaven on earth. My mouth is watering. Oh, heavenly.
5. The library down the road from me. It has great hours, and if I had just moved here from somewhere else, I would love that I can walk to it, access it online, and it has all sorts of things for the family- story times, camps, etc. The librarians are nice too! Wow!
6. Lake Superior. I know it's a drive and if I had just moved here, I might zip on over to Lake Minnetonka before I'd drive all the way to Lake Superior but it's worth the drive. The north shore is beautiful, especially in the fall, and the cool breeze off the lake is balm to a hot soul. Abe and I love staying up there in the off season- when it's quiet and still and we can swing by Betty's Pies to grab breakfast and hike around in the quiet.
7. Snow. I know it's almost blasphemy to talk about snow in July but I can't help it. I LOVE a white Christmas. I don't know if I could really fully ever get in the Christmas spirit without snow. It's so romantic, stilling, peaceful, deafening in it's silence. I love how it absorbs sound so that when you walk outside everything is muffled- everything; footsteps, breath, car tires. It's like living with ear plugs in for a bit. Kind of helps take the edge off of life sometimes (i.e. 32 4th graders making sculptures in a non-carpeted, sound enhancing classroom :).
8. Nelson's Ice Cream in Stillwater. Get a child's sized cone- you'll never finish it all! Tons of flavors, tons of ice cream, great deal- lines out the door all summer long, easy walk into downtown Stillwater. It has it all. I wish I could say it was this undiscovered gem, but everyone knows about Nelson's. It's that good. Try it, you'll love it- but be prepared to wait in line.
That's all for now... more to come, I'm sure as I "discover" things anew.