Having reread the following, I deem it too depressing and self-indulgent to post; nothing but mid-life crisis mewling at its farging worst. Skip it and read todays Backfence, which is sprightly and ludicrous. Otherwise, prepare to enter Downerville, Population Me and a million indifferent ghosts.
I should note that it rained today. All day. Its cold, too. The time has come, perhaps, to plot the Great Move to Arizona. Not now; not soon. I just ordered a light fixture for the dining room, for heavens sake, and I dont think Ill be prying it off the ceiling anytime soon. But in five years? Sure. I can take five more winters, five miserable springs, five desperate summers, if I knew I was heading to my reward. I jumped once before, left in haste, and that was the move to DC. Cant do that again. I have to move up in every way. DC was a move sideways or down; from ease of mobility to living conditions to the aroma of the grocery stores to the weather to the civic services to the crime, it was all for the worse. It had its compensations, and had I been in my 20s it would have been a great adventure. But my life kept getting smaller and smaller, and after a point the promise of a new Tibetan / Peruvian fusion tapas restaurant in Adams-Morgan seemed to be insufficient compensation.
Its an odd feeling, and Im not sure what Ill do with it. I have identified with this place for so long it feels like treason to leave, and theres something dangerous in disengaging long before you actually go. I love my home, I love my job, I love belonging here, and I love this place, but its trying my patience. And to be frank, it feels like its done with me, too. This is hard to describe. But. Having internalized down to the molecular level a sense of this places history, it has come to seem like a fools conceit, a love song to indifferent bricks. I mean, so I care about conservation of the Baker Building. So what? Is this what Im going to do for the rest of my life walk downtown twice a week, look up at the old friends, and say yep, you used to be Daytons, but now youre not, and the old Radisson was there, but now theres a new Radisson. How about that. Somewhere in the back of my head the idea Minneapolis day is four oclock on a Wednesday afternoon in the late summer, when all the friendly spirits assemble. The ladies in sensible dresses coming out of Powers with a new pair of shoes, the men in hats stretching in the Donaldsons tower and wondering if they should drive down to the strip this weekend, maybe catch a game at the Met; the janitor over the WCCO studio swabbing the floor so it shines when Cedric Adams comes in for his broadcast, the lonely guy heading into the Gopher to kill time before the bus takes him out of town, the secretaries at the Bridgemans having a malt before heading home on the trolley to tiny flats in Uptown. I can wave but they dont wave back. Ungrateful shades! I see the town in terms many wouldnt recognize either the history long vanished my own history no one would know, or particularly care about. In New York or Chicago or any other large city theres so much history you can explore it forever, but sometimes it feels like theres not enough here to keep me going forward. Every place I go is thick with history, and half of its meaningless, the result of the inevitable accretion of tracing the same route for too many years. The history that actually means something is a phantom, and somewhat of a bother. What would it be like to live somewhere and not see what had been there before?
I left Fargo for a reason, after all.
But of course youre running away from yourself when you do something like this, right? Well, no. Wherever you go, there you are. But at least in Arizona, youre warmer, and CRIMINEY JUDAS Im tired of being cold all the time. You oughtn't be cold in May. I walk outside to the gazebo cant sit down, the seats are wet and I can see my breath. Which is nice, because it means Im alive. But still.
All I know is that Im coming to the end of a line, somehow. All I know I dont want to die in a place where you cant wear shorts in July. Its 54 degrees here right now, and 95 in Scottsdale. The forecast here: cloudy and 10 degrees below normal into June. The forecast in Arizona: sunny and hot into the 29th century. If I spent my days in an office I might be less peeved, but even so Id be ground down by the drizzling weekends, the panic that a cold July brings, the sense that winter is ready to slam the hand down again at the earliest possible opportunity.
I really do love it there. Everytime I go to Arizona I think: yes, sir, this is for me. So I have a project. A five year project. I have to reconnect; clear the decks; remember why I love it here and make it work. If in five years I discover that the Minneapolis I love is a thing of fiction made of old photos and postcards, its time to till the soil. When I came back here the thought that Id drive these streets as an old man was a comfort, and it may well end up so. Its also possible I end up braking into a skid on some March sleet and get broadsided as I pass through Lake Street for the 95,933rd and final time, and my last thought will be: so much sun you could have had. So much sun.
Plus, they sell wine in grocery stores there.
Make that a four-year project.
Note: my father, an eternal North Dakotan in his high seventies, called me tonight from the road, somewhere between Fargo and Minneapolis; he's heading to the cities in one of his semis to pick up a load of aviation fuel. He hates the weather too, because it's too cold and wet to enjoy driving his new Harley. (That's my Dad.) I said I was considering moving to Arizona. He said I should, and he'd be down to visit as often as he could. From my Dad, a lifelong plainsman, this is like the Pope walking into a mosque and shouting "Whaddya got, boys?" It's getting to us, it is. It's getting to us all.
Perm link: here.