December 30, 2008

A Tale of 3 Cities and 3 Boys

Although I don't have any food stories today (due to not cooking for a week and overkill from the food-crazed holidays), I am taking a break from packing for my Seattle trip to tell you about 2 sets of 3 things that are as important to me as good food - therefore, equally-worth writing about.

I'm in the midst of a two day process of packing, unpacking, packing, and unpacking. Traveling from the Cities, to Hills, to the Cities again, then to Seattle. Traveling can be exhausting, but what it forces out of you is very rewarding. (And it helps when you carry keepsakes from friends with you.)

Last week brought me back home to Hills, MN for the holidays. Hills is the southwestern-most city in Minnesota - a bedroom community composed of about 500 residents. It's a nice place to call home: maybe half of the town is related, there's a charming cafe, my mom can sell her homemade lefse at our local meat locker, and its not rare to have your neighbors come over for the day to learn to can tomatoes or make applesauce. Traveling back and forth to the Twin Cities and Hills always involves a transition in mindset. Obviously, the pace of life is faster in the Cities, the people are more liberal, I can find goat cheese and quinoa within a half mile, and your neighbors don't know your whole life's history. But I have learned to appreciate each for what it's given my life experience - security, memories, family, new opportunities, fine dining, and an education - to name a few. And now, a new city will be in the mix, Seattle. I am visiting a publisher I know out there as graduation is looming and I want to see what's out there for jobs. And I want to site-see. I am excited about this new set of experiences and to see what life is going to reveal.

Comparing these cities, thinking about what each of them has shown (and will show) me is very much like what my three little nephews have done for my life. I have three older sisters who, six years ago, happened to get pregnant the same year. We knew trouble was brewing ... fast forward a few years and we've got 3 little hooligans terrorizing anything that was in their arm's reach. It has been an adventure to watch them all grow up together. Now at the age of 6, they are in their first year of school. And their humor and wit has tripled.

Levi is both the lion and the lamb. His animal-like growls and hisses may have you think for a minute that my sister bore a tiger. And those facial expressions, sometimes I'm even scared of my own nephew. But his gentleness surfaces as quickly as his agressiveness. He will be the first to crawl into your lap with a snuggly blanket for a movie. Levi's shown me the importance of having a complex character, it keeps things interesting and makes you adaptable.

Caden is the comedian; you can always find him trying to make people laugh. Whether it's attempting a joke he heard on Disney, or being a tiger with Levi (see above), or just giving you is painstakingly-cute smile. If that doesn't get you, his hair always smells like Baby Magic shampoo. His natural bleach-blonde hair tells me he's going to be a little heartbreaker :) This little one has made me see the joy and power of laughter. And reminds me how good Baby Magic is, to the point where I'm considering using it myself. He's a snuggler, too - much like myself and Levi.

Last, but not least, is Isaac. I have spent the most time with this guy as he lives the closest to my parents' house. Isaac, simply put, is a brain. He was the first to teach me about a 'backhoe' at the age of 3, as it was his toy present for filling out his 'poop-chart' when he was a toddler. (In case you don't know either, it's a tractor with a front loader and a digging bucket on the back used for excavation purposes.) His tendency to bombard you with questions reminds me a little of myself, as I have been known to do the same frequently. He asks those classic kid questions that are so simple, yet so complex - like 'What do you want to be when you grow up?' After telling him I am a writer, he told me to write some dinosaur books and send them to his local library soon. I told him I'd get right on it. He's reaffirmed my belief in the importance of questions and inspires me to absorb knowledge like a sponge.

Comparing people and places is like comparing apples to oranges. But I can tell you that each with their own characteristics, these cities and these boys are guiding me along life, forcing me to learn about myself, continuing to show me beauty, and constantly surprising me.

When I count my blessings, these 6 are up there with the apples and the oranges.

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