I'm back in the Midwest again. When Toby and I packed up the car and drove west over two years ago, I never imagined I'd be returning as much as I have. I'm lucky to have the freedom to travel as often as I do, but this much back and forth has also been pretty draining (<-- I just rediscovered that post today, and the comfort I found in the familiarity of the words I wrote is indescribable). This trip has been no different.
When I flew in to Minneapolis over a week ago, it was almost like I hadn't left LA. The sun was shining and the air was warm; the main difference was the slight nip of humidity on my bare skin as I peeled off my layers. Los Angeles doesn't do humid.
The balmy weather lasted a couple of days, enough to go on a long walk, eat lunch on the deck in the sunshine and watch my friends pull off a successful wedding. Then a chill settled in, and I strongly regretted not packing anything warmer than a leather jacket and a hooded sweatshirt. Then it snowed, and I really regretted it.
Before the storm, Toby and I explored a small regional park near my parents' house, resulting in the above and below photos. I pretended it was autumn, which I've sorely missed every year since I left. It wasn't a difficult task. The leaves underfoot were crunchy and brown, the wind was sharp and unforgiving, and geese occasionally flew overhead. I'm sure they were regretting not packing more than just a leather jacket and hoodie as well.
Whenever I spend enough time at home, I slip into thoughts of other possible lives, of other paths I could have gone down. I wonder if I would have been happy in those lives, if I had made different decisions, if I had said yes to some things instead of saying no. If I had stayed here instead of deciding that the other side of the country was the place for me to be.
If, if, if. I know it doesn't do any good to think about any of that now, because my life is what it is, and for the most part I wouldn't change a thing. But this place fosters certain habits, ideas, and feelings that I'm able to almost completely banish when I'm in California. In California, I'm focused on growth; in Minnesota, I settle into nostalgia. And that's completely on me. I envy the strength of those who are able to thrive so well in the place where they grew up, where old memories linger and familiar sights and sounds are all around. I hope to someday not be so affected by every little thing. But in this phase of life at least, the best way for me to get out of my own head and move forward is to seek out the unknown. Perhaps that's a little escapist of me, but thus far I haven't found a better way to avoid getting stuck.
And hey, I'm still in my twenties, right? Everyone and their mother says that this is the time to be a little escapist, go on a few adventures, and hopefully come out the other side none the worse for wear. I'm going to heed that advice to the best of my ability, while continuing to have faith that it'll all turn out well (I almost wrote "the way it's supposed to", but I've recently decided there is no such thing). Time and space, baby. Time and space.
One thing I know for sure is that I am proud of where I come from. I love this place and the people it contains, safe and snug and greeting me with open arms whenever I decide to make an appearance. I love meeting new babies and seeing how much the old babies have grown. I love hearing about my friends' lives and seeing their new houses and listening to funny stories about events that I missed. I love spending time with my family, eating my dad's cooking and listening to Toby talk politics with my mom. These are the reasons I keep coming back for more.
Oh, and I guess it's kind of pretty too.