July 29, 2009
After sitting between two doctors on the flight to Minneapolis, who both got called for an emergency in the back, I had no idea what to expect of the trip. The concept of home really got scrambled this past year. I couldn't convince myself to call the Twin Cities home because it was a temporary place while I went to school. But now Seattle has wiggled its way into my life, demanding a more permanent position. I would like to tell you that I recently went 'home' for a visit, but I must say I feel equally at home in my new west coast residence. A Midwest visit in the summer is a sure treat, though - giddy kids 'building Seattle' in their sandbox, dirty toes, cherry stained lips, tall corn, pork chops, potato salad, no cell phone service, and nephews asking questions like, "Is that how they cut apples in Seattle?"
The weddings of two classmates is initially what brought me home. Two guy friends - one was my childhood neighbor who bullied me, then proceeded to get in all sorts of trouble with me in high school, the other of which dated many of my best friends in high school and we ended up being homecoming king and queen together. I found myself at a reception table full of the guys that I graduated with, talking about interest rates, mortgages, and credits cards - something I couldn't have seen 5 years previously while we were still concerned about the Nike swoosh on our shoe or the year of our car. Marriages, children, job interviews, new colleges, they've turned into some really fine men. I was so proud of these boys. (Not that I am in a position to be, given I am the baby of the class!)
But the trip has turned up many interesting events through the visit. A wedding shower of a cousin's fiance, a going away celebration, swimming with a friend, a visit to the farm (where this blog began), and a block party (hosted by my very own parents). Despite not being able to talk with my Coasties on the phone, it's refreshing to be here. The strangest looks you get are from the cows as you bike along the flat highway, wondering what in the world you're doing. A wave to each vehicle that passes is mandatory, otherwise the locals will wonder who the 'stranger' is. But you learn to deal. When a little computer work is begging to be taken care of, a coffee shop isn't too far away in Sioux Falls, where one can easily slip into, if you can bear listening to retired, over-caffeinated Vietnam war vets sharing stories and getting on each others' nerves. The power of earphones to exclude you from any awkward public environment is amazing, really!
But there are definite adjustments that need to be taken into consideration when coming here. While having lunch in Sioux Falls the other afternoon with my friends, we were presented with the soup options in a downtown cafe. It was classic Midwestern fare: cheddar ham, loaded potato, chicken pot pie, and cheesy roasted red pepper. And this was their summer menu! Midwestern fare leaves me feeling a little woozy the first few days, but then the stomach soon turns to steel and I'm ready to handle anything. And the adjustments don't stop at the food. Some things I've learned not to bring up are West Coast liberalism, church, naked bikers, and the superior food of Seattle. But I do have to say the West Coast is already rubbing off on my family. One Saturday morning I had my parents on all fours doing yoga, and not long after I walked them through the granola-making process. Now the challenge will be telling dad to keep his shirt on.
I recently found that my parents have saved all of my voice mails on our answering machine since I left Minnesota. As I went to check a new message, I found my voice on the remaining 12. I didn't know whether to take this as a sign that they thought I was ready to drop dead any minute out there, biking all over the city, eating too much fish, taking the 'dangerous' ferries, or else did they think they had to savor each message because I didn't call enough? Upon further research, I found that my dad wants to record them to save for memory-keeping. My dad used to do this very thing while the first batch of kids were growing up on the farm. It's one of his Hobbyist things, I guess.
The unchanging characteristics of this small place in Minnesota are what make it such a charming place to call home. The plume of cigar smoke that trails the local car mechanic, the wooden spoons whose location in the kitchen have never changed, retired farmers that walk down main street in their overalls even though they haven't been on a tractor in years, and dad's laughter - the one that makes you think he's having a heart attack.
Although I couldn't ever see myself living here again, a little visit is a welcomed treat.
Posted by Melinda at 7:02 PM