Archive for August, 2016

Going Home

When I went to college in Iowa, I went as a Virginian. When I moved to Minnesota after college, I was still Virginian. But I moved to California as a Minnesotan. Something happened in those intervening ten years. I wonder about it a lot. Virginia will always be where I was born, nothing can change that, it’s what the birth certificate says and everything. But where I’m from? That will always be Minnesota. I live in California as a Minnesotan with Midwestern roots and even if I stayed here for the rest of my life, I’d still be more Minnesota than anything else. You can see it in the First Ave hoodie and the love of Doomtree, you can see it in how well I still know the streets of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, you can see it in how often I go back. It’s the place I go back to; it’s the place I’ll always go back to. It’ll always be the place I wonder about leaving, the place I dream about going back to when I’m low, and the place I still try and figure out how I’ll own a second home in even if I never leave San Francisco (because who can afford a first home here?)

I used to think each trip back would get easier. But now I’m not so sure. This has…not been the greatest few months professionally, and San Francisco has always been a tough city personally. I love it, its hills, the ocean, the Pliny on tap, how much music rolls through town (and how much is still here if you don’t believe the lies), how much different nature is just a few short hours away, how easy it is to get so many places in the US and internationally when SFO is your home airport. But it is hard to connect with people here. We all seem overburdened, and it’s hard to escape that feeling we are all plotting our exit strategies. It’s hard to afford all those shows. It’s hard to keep up here, even if you are fortunate. I don’t know if that’s a function of the place, of my age, or of everything else in my life. 2+ weeks back in Minnesota and Iowa both makes me homesick and reinforces that it’s not where I live anymore. Perhaps it just the deep ambivalence that is a hallmark of who I am. Ambivalence or no, I need to step away from the fog for a bit.

A trip back to Minnesota and Iowa isn’t going to solve my problems (as much as people seem to like saying that). Perhaps it will provide me with some perspective, though. Or perhaps it’ll be nothing more than a couple weeks away from some of the other problems in my life. A couple weeks to play games with old friends, to see a couple old friends get married, to eat Pizza Luce too many times, to bike to the new breweries in Minneapolis and Saint Paul while still hitting the “old” ones that aren’t so old. It’s amazing how time passes, how there are people that I met there and I realize I have known them 10+ years now. In Iowa, I’ll see great friends I’ve known even longer. I’ll see the campus I first went to half a lifetime ago, as a quite different person. Hell, it’s August, the Four Seasons Fountain might even have water in it. Time is a constant, yet time comes at you fast. It’s funny like that.

Sometimes you just have to appreciate something for what it is. I learned long ago that you cannot make problems go away by ignoring them. But sometimes you do need to step away from them for a bit. Sometimes you need to go home, to go someplace you are comfortable, to go someplace where people know you and there’s nothing to explain. Sometimes you just need to drink an EPA, play some cribbage, watch the Twins, and feel like it’s still 2006. Even when it’s not. Even when it’s materially different and you know it. There’s a difference between pretending and forgetting. I try not to do the former, and I wish I were better at the latter at times. Right now I just need to forget some things. Or remember some things I’ve long since forgotten. Perhaps something long ago will remind me of how to proceed here and now. Or perhaps there’s no need to ascribe any significance to it. We go home to get away from it all. We go home because it is hopefully a safe place. We go home to forget and remember all at once. Home is a construct. Home is the City of Lakes. And even if it’s only been a few months, I’ve been gone too long.

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