I’ve decided in the past few weeks that Minnesota is my state – not solely mine, but a place that is mine. I wasn’t sure before if there was anywhere that was mine, but I’ve realized Minnesota is it. What does it mean to have a homeland? My parents didn’t originate from anywhere near Minnesota, so it’s not where your family is from. Alabama and Colorado are certainly not my homelands.
If you go farther back, well, what country did your family come from? I honestly can’t tell you for certain. We’ve been here since pre-Revolution. I think we were in Scotland and Britain before then, just judging by the names I’ve found in my family tree, but it’s so far back that it hardly seems to matter.
I’m the only one in my entire family – ever, that I know of – to be born in Minnesota. Brooke (though technically a Jersey girl) and I have lived the epitome of Minnesota suburban girl lives: played soccer for a limited time, skated on the lakes, went sledding and playing in the snow til our snow pants were drenched, made countless snow forts and snowmen, have had innumerable mosquito bites all over our bodies, have been “Up North” to friends’ cabins and to summer camp, have known how to canoe and kayak for ages, never cock an eyebrow in confusion when someone references “the lake.”
“The lake” doesn’t refer to a particular lake, for all you non-Minnesotans. To Chicagoans, it means Lake Michigan. To Minnesotans, it refers to whatever particular lake you happen to be near or were near at the time of the story. And, just for bragging rights, Minnesota may be called “The Land of 10,000 Lakes,” but we actually have more. HA.
Anyways, back to belonging. I belong in Minnesota. But is it just because I was born here? No. Is it because I embody the typical Minnesotan spirit? Well, I only imitate the accent and sometimes slip into it by accident (Uffdah, ware gunna take tha boat owt on the laaayke fur a spin. You betcha, hun. Than ware gunna eat sum lootafisk an’ put it in a bayg), but I do really live it up in the summers (Minnesotans spend nearly all of their time outside during the summer. Summer is defined as any time period where the weather is 55 or above and there is no snow on the ground nor any forecasted) and am proud to brave winters where temperatures plunge thirty below zero – and windchill is colder. I beat around the bush when I talk (less so after my time in Austria, where people are much more direct) and can sugarcoat anything to make it sound nicer.
Is that what makes me belong here? Maybe partly. I think it’s mostly because I fit with the people here, though. Whether I’m like them or not, we get along. I like the communities I’ve found in my church, in my retail job, in my former high school friends, and with the strangers I meet who will shiver and talk about the bitter cold wind with me though I don’t know them from Adam. That can’t be said for every place I go. This spirit gets you strange looks in other parts of the world. Not that we can’t adapt to fit elsewhere, but this is home.
This post might be more for me than for you. I declare – Minnesota is home! It doesn’t mean I’m not getting back on the plane back to Chicago next semester and again in the fall. It doesn’t mean I’ll never have a beach home in Florida (even though with my anticipated paycheck, that’s unlikely). But I know where I fit, for whatever that’s worth right now.