Well, Internets, I made it. As of today I have been a Minnesota resident for an entire year, and I lived to tell the tale.
In the last 12 months, I have survived:
- The coldest Twin Cities winter in 35 years.
- One of my dogs hating Joel’s kid and subsequently having a nervous breakdown that took months to get under control.
- Both of my dogs hating Joel’s cat.
- Approximately 7000 squirrels living in my neighborhood.
- Our first Christmas as a “real” family (wherein “real” means living under the same roof, sometimes).
- A new job (which subsequently became a different new job than I thought it would be).
- A half marathon for which I barely trained because of the aforementioned winter.
- A trip to Japan with a 7 year old.
- A kitchen renovation that forced me to make food next to a toilet for four months.
- My first Mother’s Day.
- Turning 39.
- Claire, Huck and Cooper all turning 8.
- Being told I have old ovaries.
- And my first parent-teacher conference.
I did all these things, and never once truly thought I made a mistake in coming here. Sure, there were times when I wondered how in the hell it was going to work, like all those times Huck barked menacingly at Claire and Joel hated him and I wondered how I could ever give up my dog (my family) in exchange for this new relationship. There were times in the dead of winter when I thought I would go completely bonkers from being cooped up, when Joel would go on business trips and I’d curl up on the couch and try not to cry. Sometimes I miss my best friend, who is back in San Francisco, so much that I do get weepy and feel the most alone ever. And, I’ll admit, I have definitely yelled/sobbed at Joel “I can’t believe I moved here!” when times got really hard, but I regretted it as soon as I said it.
For the most part, all these things happened so quickly – I mean, geezus, can it possibly be ONE YEAR ALREADY – that I didn’t have time to dwell on the fact that I moved across the country from the San Francisco Bay to the Land O’ Lakes.
I know it sounds silly, but it honestly didn’t feel real to me until Joel and I were standing in a sea of hot, sweaty, drunken bodies at a Counting Crows concert. I could go on for a long time about how August & Everything After is one of my desert island albums, but let’s just say I’ve been a fan since “Mister Jones” (which I kind of hate), even though I know it’s deeply uncool to admit it. I have seen Counting Crows in concert easily more than a dozen times, many of those in San Francisco, which is a very different experience than seeing them anywhere else because it’s a “local” show for them. The crowd is full of family and childhood friends. The band is looser and goofier and it feels like every song is an in-joke.
There is a line in “Long December” that goes If you think you might come to California/I think you should and when they play this song in California the entire audience yells I THINK YOU SHOULD with one voice. I stood there in the sweaty mass in some strange venue in an outer-ring suburb of Minnesota and waited for that moment. I opened my mouth to yell, and then looked around. No one else was gearing up to sing along. Several people were texting, lots were drinking. No one yelled I THINK YOU SHOULD and it was the first time I realized I did not live in California. When I went home, it was not going to be to my house in Berkeley. All the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and I thought I would cry.
I had lived in Minnesota for seven months. And it took the Counting Freaking Crows for it to sink in.
What’s on tap for year two? Winter, which is bearing down on me like a freight train. A wedding, for which we have done absolutely zero planning. A lot more work on the house – painting, new vanities in the bathrooms, new carpet in the basement, maybe a new garage door, a new front door, perhaps some new storage in the basement and garage, a more concerted effort at gardening. Figuring out my ovaries and whether more kids should be in our future.
You know. Easy stuff that is not at all time consuming. Wish me monsters!