I had a comment, a few days back, from someone who wanted to know why in the world I would live in Minnesota, knowing full well that, several times a year, the weather would try to kill me.
I wept, of course. She would never know the lure of the State of Minnesota, its shape pleasantly reminiscent of a pitcher of beer, the haunting calls of its loons, the erstwhile Minnesota Vikings.
I have lived in Minnesota and Wisconsin all my life. I'm not sure why I haven't moved to somewhere warm. I worry about that, sometimes.
Why do I continue to live in this part of the world?
So I sat down, went looking inside my head for what I could tell her, what I could tell you: the people who know not the sensation of a freezing eyeball on an increasingly bleary January morning or the burning red cheeks of the heartily, healthily cold.
Sit back. The list of both pros and cons is staggering.
We're an easygoing people. Very live-and-let-live. Frankly, it's not so much that we're cool with whatever you're doing, we just don't want to know. Whatever you're doing, just keep it at your place. Mow your yard, shovel your sidewalk, keep your dogs quiet, and we'll get along fine.
We're an attractive people: bright eyed and prompt and every one of us, as Garrison says, "above average". I can personally guarantee that 90% of my friends are really quite attractive. Ask them! They'll tell you.
We have good public schools. To those of you on the wrong side of the Atlantic (booya!) I believe that means something different. I forget, right now, just what the difference is, but I'm sure you'll figure it out.
And what about location, location, location? Witness our reasonably-natured friends, the Canadians, our northern border. You don't get better neighbors than that. There's a lot of land up there, a lake or two, as I recall; and Mother Nature and our shared stand-offish natures ensure that we continue to nod at each other on the road and just keep on going. There are no US/Canadian skirmishes in Minnesota.
Complete attitude adjustments every three months -- tell me that doesn't sound good to you! Tell me you don't want to know the wonder of the giddy day that you can step outside in a pair of shoes (not boots) that tread on dry concrete (not the striated, potholed surfaces of the last four - five months!) Who doesn't remark upon the moment they see the young people in the park, throwing balls at each other, daring to wear hopeful shorts, momentarily-shocking tank tops, exposing more flesh than you've noticed on another human being in months.
That there is worth the price of admission.
But then, see, that's where we, in the interest of time and space, start running into problems. Because now we have to look at
Truth be told, there have been an influx of ugly people lately. Some of them are identified, not visually, but aurally. You just have to listen and you'll learn more than you wanted to know. Yes, yes. We hear you. Now shut up about it already. Pull up your pants, take your hat off in a restaurant, wipe your shoes off at the door, lower your voices, and try not to be a jackass.
Especially that last one. I specifically recall my Mom and Dad instructing me that I should try not to be a jackass.
My Mom and Dad told me, now I'm telling you. We good?
And then there's the clothing. Have you considered what living in Minnesota does to one's wardrobe, the constant shifting of "summer clothes" and "winter clothes"? Of varying lengths of jackets and coats? I live in a house with two closets -- apparently those people had, honestly, four changes of clothing. Four!
But I digress.
Please believe me when I tell you that the clothes I am wearing (jeans, cotton long-sleeved tee under a butt-length-ed, long-sleeved dark red cashmere sweater -- garage sale find #6 for the '09 season as part of a $2 as-much-as-you-can-put-in-here brown paper bag) is nothing like the no-sleeved cotton dress I was wearing four months ago. The cotton dress is rolled up tightly and stuffed into a long, flat Tupperware container under the bed, awaiting seasonal dispensation.
The tricky part, of course, is that you own these things, these things you wear for a limited time of the year and then you put them away, yes? And then the seasons shift again, you re-introduce the cotton dress to your wardrobe only to find that it has, inexplicably, shrunk. It's the damnedest thing.
Oh, and then there's the extreme swings in temperature. Possibly -50 Fahrenheit? Possibly 112 Fahrenheit? The weather wants to kill you, but you can't let it. Really it's best if you just think of it as a game.
So why do I stay?
I stay for the people, really. As you stay for yours. Especially the sharp, funny, kind, flawed ones.
Still. I should get out of Minnesota more often. And really, we should all get together more often -- I mean, times when we're not trying to kill each other -- and have a beer or go swimming (but not at the same time, unless you're into that sort of thing) or go see a movie or something.
Could we see a movie and then go have a beer?
Actually, that sounds pretty good. Let's plan on that. But let's do it somewhere warm.
Survey Responses from John, Elly, and Elaine
11 hours ago