This is a love letter I dreamed up yesterday while I was taking the most wonderful bike ride and run in a darling Saint Paul neighborhood.
Dear Minneapolis, Saint Paul, & the surrounding communities that make the collective Twin Cities Metro a vibrant and beautiful place to live,
I have called this corner of the world ‘home’ my whole life. I was born into a suburban neighborhood that buzzed with summertime barbecues and the delighted laughter of evening bike parades. The second half of my childhood spent living just across a beautiful oasis of wilderness nestled between cul de sacs and dairy farms, full of trails to walk with my family and the dogs. A home and environment that allowed my mom to live a dream she had since she was a child– what a blessing for all of us to be a part of simply that.
I love this community so much so, that when I was accepted into my graduate program at the U of M and I drove into Minneapolis (from Fargo) for a student brunch, I cried when the skyline came into view knowing that I was coming home.
And yet, this weekend you had me falling in love all over again.
So I am writing you this love letter.
I love that you are a happy host to outdoor music festivals in the fleeting weeks between winters. I joyfully soaked up great music this weekend with 20,000+ on the steps of the Basilica of St. Mary. I was humbled when John McCrea, lead singer for Cake, reminded us to be present in that very moment and space because we would never again all be together like that.
I love that, less than 12 hours after walking Hennepin Avenue through downtown Minneapolis, with all it’s lights, music, taxicabs, and bachelorette parties, I found myself running along a rushing Mississippi River with hardly another soul in sight. I love that I could just stop and go down to see the Hidden Falls in Saint Paul, where I was suddenly in a lush and welcoming woods perforated by a stream that exhales the tiniest little babbles as it navigates the pebbles in its path.
I love that your traffic is good enough to get me where I am going, but bad enough to remind me to take my bicycle when I can. And utilize your growing and important public transit system for all the times in between. I love that Minneapolis and Saint Paul have fostered a culture that focuses on health– active living and access to healthy foods. The bike paths and lanes make it easy and safe for me to bike to almost anywhere and the sidewalks, shops, and people in my neighborhood make it an absolute delight to walk to and from, or just because. The farmer’s markets make my heart sing. I am honored to buy fresh and inexpensive produce that helps some of our most local and smallest businesses. I am further humbled by many efforts to increase the presence of fresh foods in our community’s food shelves. This sense that all Twin Citizens are looking out for one another is completely awesome.
I love living and working in Minnesota’s capitol city and getting to play in all that both Minneapolis and Saint Paul offer. But, even for a city girl, sometimes the concrete landscape has to give way to open spaces. I love that we have not (yet) fallen victim to urban sprawl. One does not have to drive far to get outside of the buzz of freeway noise and the orange sky glow of the city lights. After all, balance is the key to success.
I love that, on a quiet Sunday morning, I am sitting in a tiny apartment that used to be a school where F. Scott Fitzgerald once took dance classes as a kid. I love that in this 520 square feet, I have all that I need. And the cat and I are enjoying the following sounds: kids laughing in the neighbor’s backyard, the birds in the tree out the back window, a gentle 30 mph traffic on the busy cross streets a block away, and the church bells ringing their blessings over everything the sound touches.
Saint Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities: you are my first home and my only home. I cannot promise that I will never move away– at nearly 26 my life is still so wonderfully wide open– but my sweet little heart is so tied to this community that I will never truly be far away.
I raise my coffee cup to you this morning, Twin Cities.
With all my heart,