A (Personal) Sense of Place

Minneapolis skyline from the roof deck at the Walker Art Center.
Minneapolis skyline from the roof deck at the Walker Art Center.

I had lived in Colorado long enough that things become familiar, and Colorado had become my touchstone for “home.” I had favorite restaurants, shops, parks, views, hangouts. Sometimes, it felt a bit boring always going to the same place, but it also felt comforting. Daily life felt more routine (and more routine than not helps a lot with my anxiety). If I was driving around and was hangry, I knew where to go to get a quick meal (and, having food allergies, I knew where to go that was safe). If I needed a particular ingredient for a recipe, I knew just the shop to go to.  When I was feeling down, I had places to go for pick-me-ups. The views I saw helped anchor me to my “place” – mountains always to the west, visible for quick navigation and grounding; the glimpse of the city skyline as I would drive down certain streets; landmarks that jogged memories.

Since moving to Minneapolis, its been difficult for me to find my sense of place. I am still looking for a job, so routine is hard to come by. I am still learning the area, and get frustrated that I don’t know where to go for most things. On one hand, the newness is fun and a bit of an adventure – I love stopping into a new bookstore or trying out a new restaurant! But, adventure every day gets exhausting. Its humid and hot and I don’t remember how to deal with it. Food goes stale so fast. There are bugs – mosquitoes, fruit flies, gnats. My mountains are gone.

Its hard to adapt and adjust. Its lonely and tired and sometimes sad. I see things and wish I could show it to a friend from Colorado, but I don’t know that I will see them again. I want to ask someone to join me on an adventure (which, as a introvert loner, is quite the thing), but I don’t know people here to ask. Andrew is busy working so much of the time, and I don’t have (much of) an income, so I can’t really tell him to work less.

Sunset on Bde Maka Ska / Lake Calhoun
Sunset on Bde Maka Ska / Lake Calhoun (with planes lining up to land)

Of course, it is also fun and exciting. I really do love Minneapolis as a city, so far. All the neighborhoods are named and there are countless small neighborhood shops on corners. It seems like every neighborhood has it’s own small farmer’s market, and they mostly sell fresh vegetables instead of food products or crafts. The mid-priced-range food scene here is amazing, and represents so many different cuisines.

The park system here is incredible, with miles of paths to explore. There are gardens and nature preserves and even a free (botanical) conservatory in St. Paul. And the lakes! The lakes. We live near several of the beautiful lakes and it has been such a balm for me to be able to walk to them. People seem to take such pride in their landscaping, and so I have gleefully enjoyed watching all of their plants grow. Clematises (clemati?) and lilies and bee balm and hostas and ferns all seem to do so well here – plants I didn’t see much of in Colorado and am enjoying learning about.

I’m starting to feel out some things that I’d like to try: the Minnesota Zen Center (also within walking-ish distance of our home); an herbal immersion course (starting next year); ceramics classes (through the local rec center or maybe at a local pottery place). A routine is starting to develop, somewhat – though its hard to stay motivated to get things done by any certain time when I have so much free time. I am starting to get back into habits that I had and dropped, like meditation and language learning (which I want to write more about soon).

I keep reminding myself that its okay to feel sad (or excited!), and to have patience and kindness with myself through the transitions. I know it is a process. I know that one day I will wake up and realize everything has become familiar and routine and a part of me will be annoyed that I don’t have more time or inclination to explore and adventure – and so I am doing my best to enjoy the process now, too.

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