Monday, August 19, 2013


Well this is quite a first. An encore request.
 Yesterday I reflected on living here in Minnesota for fifteen years. I commented on the fact that even though we never felt we belonged here, that in May, right before Glenn's death, we had decided that we really were home. And everything took on a lighter hue. Suddenly it felt just right.
Today I had two emails from friends asking me to write more about how I got to this place, and what changed to make it feel like home. So today, (in between a few grief spells), as I went about the business of the last week of summer, I thought about it. I looked around. And this is WHY I call Brainerd/Baxter  home, at least for this time in my life.
When I was young, I loved "busy".. Going to the hustle and bustle of downtown Milwaukee was part of my routine. For awhile I worked there everyday. Once I drove to the opposite end of the city for my job; the commute was 45 minutes. I never thought about it. When you grow up and spend adulthood in a metro suburb, you get used to the pace and the numbers of people around you. It was hard to adjust to not having that when we moved here.
I have discovered lately that I have lost that desire. Crowds and noise no longer energize me. What brings me calm? Hearing loons across the lake, looking out my back yard and seeing the woods and the sway of the poplars. The darkness of the night sky and the bright stars and the peace and quiet of nature. Watching the sun rise over not one, but two lakes as I drive to work in the winter. Physical life is easy here. And Costco came to town. What's not to love?.
Rather than 45 minutes, I am at work in 10 minutes. A traffic jam happens on Friday afternoon when everybody is trying to get up to their lake cabins. And then I know all the alternate routes.:)
What took G and I a long time to realize is that there are just as many small minded, bigoted people here as there are in the city and suburbs. The difference is that here they are more audible, because the number of people is that much smaller. In one classroom I can have a very rich kid who lives on a very expensive lake in a very huge house, and a very poor kid, who gets a free lunch and has a dysfunctional home life. That IS diversity in action. And it is one of the things I have come to love. In the city, you have to be intentional about being diverse. It's all here ...everyday. I have to be able to bounce between worlds as a teacher.
But why did we ultimately decide this was home? It was an easy choice, even before that terrible night. We had found our niche of like-minded friends here- we were loved and we loved them in return. And we laughed with how we laughed. We belonged and it felt like home.
And less than 6 hours after his death, you all showed me your true colors for the rest of the week. And I knew, as I know still, that it is, and was,  our friends that have made this home for me.
When I think of all the hours we fretted about what a mistake it was to move here, and yet  how through the years it has proven to be the smartest thing we could have done, personally and professionally, I know now that we were blessed to find our home here.
As my Chris used to say when he was small, "Sweet Home Sweet."