Monday, January 18, 2016

Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Tears

This post comes to you from my condo in St. Paul, Mn.--a condo I bought back in 2008 pre-economic downturn against the advice of my trusty financial advisor. He was right.

But post-divorce, I was making all kinds of crazy plans. I would have taken out a jumbo loan and financed the Taj Mahal at an interest rate high enough to reach the moon if I'd thought it was the solution to how shitty I felt back then. Daughter M was not doing the best in those days either, and I think living here was some sort of balm--as much balm as a physical thing can be for a hurt that's not at all physical. She lived here for three years, and now the other daughter, C, is living here with her husband. With my mom in a nursing home in northeast Iowa, the Twin Cities are now a good gateway to visiting her.

The frozen rural place/a.k.a. Iowa--taken on the road trip with C and her husband to see my mom

Photo of my mom and me taken yesterday. 

It was -28 degrees today in St. Paul. I went out for a walk. The sidewalks were dry and clean. With my eyes watering from the cold and my frozen tears sticking my eyelashes together, I thought about  my complicated history with Minnesota. I came here for college in 1970 just weeks after signing the final paperwork relinquishing my son for adoption. The next year I had major surgery on my spine and a month later my father died suddenly of a heart attack. The following year there was another back surgery. Thirty years later I came here again and again post divorce. I've walked in every type of weather. I've walked in deep into the woods and on country roads in the pitch black winter night while the sky was ripped apart by shooting stars. I've walked ankle deep in the mud on a lakeshore, along the Mississippi River in driving rain, in downtown St. Paul bathed in Christmas lights. I've walked drunk. I've walked sober. I've walked wailing out loud, talking to myself, while plotting mayhem, and while plotting my own destruction. Today I just walked, glad to be out under the sky.

Today, walking in St. Paul

Walking is what I do. Sad, happy, mad, glad, tired, wired, here, there. 
And while I've shed plenty of tears in California, somehow I always feel happier there.

Last month walking on the beach in Cambria, CA

And tomorrow, I'll be back in Margaritaville (a.k.a. Ventura County)

Though I have to disclose that this photo was actually taken in a Mexican Restaurant in Dubuque, IA

Another road trip photo--just because.


Vesuvius At Home said...

I love road trips and the world Dubuque. These pictures are gorgeous. So are you and your mom.

Andrea said...

That picture of Iowa made me shiver and remember, and your description of a walk in Minnesota (and that photo) brought back many Minnesota walks, especially across campuses that seemed so huge and ill-planned for wintry weather.. But most of all in reading this, I am amazed at your fortitude through along many a winding path, the physical and metaphysical walks you've taken. You are a strong one.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, Denise. This is some beautiful writing, for sure. But I'm sorry that so many unhappy memories are tied up there -- as well as significant ones. The cold seems insidious to me, and I'm glad you have your beach house and beach reports waiting for you. That picture of you and your mother is wonderful! She looks really, really good -- like she's gained some weight and isn't nearly as frail? In any case, I can't wait to see you upon your return and hope all your sadness lifts.

A said...

What a deep and poignant telescoped description, striding through parts of a life. Lovely, as is the picture of you and your mother.

Not Blank said...

I can imagine you tossing a beret in the air like Mary Tyler Moore. Your mom looks good, you look good. Financially you should prepare to live to be her age.. You're going to make it after all.

Steph(anie) said...

Walking alone is my favorite form of therapy.