Having reread the following, I deem it too depressing and self-indulgent to post; nothing but mid-life crisis mewling at its farging worst. Skip it and read today’s Backfence, which is sprightly and ludicrous. Otherwise, prepare to enter Downerville, Population Me and a million indifferent ghosts.

I should note that it rained today. All day. It’s cold, too. The time has come, perhaps, to plot the Great Move to Arizona. Not now; not soon. I just ordered a light fixture for the dining room, for heaven’s sake, and I don’t think I’ll be prying it off the ceiling anytime soon. But in five years? Sure. I can take five more winters, five miserable springs, five desperate summers, if I knew I was heading to my reward. I jumped once before, left in haste, and that was the move to DC. Can’t do that again. I have to move up in every way. DC was a move sideways or down; from ease of mobility to living conditions to the aroma of the grocery stores to the weather to the civic services to the crime, it was all for the worse. It had its compensations, and had I been in my 20s it would have been a great adventure. But my life kept getting smaller and smaller, and after a point the promise of a new Tibetan / Peruvian fusion tapas restaurant in Adams-Morgan seemed to be insufficient compensation.

It’s an odd feeling, and I’m not sure what I’ll do with it. I have identified with this place for so long it feels like treason to leave, and there’s something dangerous in disengaging long before you actually go. I love my home, I love my job, I love belonging here, and I love this place, but it’s trying my patience. And to be frank, it feels like it’s done with me, too. This is hard to describe. But. Having internalized down to the molecular level a sense of this place’s history, it has come to seem like a fool’s conceit, a love song to indifferent bricks. I mean, so I care about conservation of the Baker Building. So what? Is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life – walk downtown twice a week, look up at the old friends, and say “yep, you used to be Dayton’s, but now you’re not, and the old Radisson was there, but now there’s a new Radisson. How about that.” Somewhere in the back of my head the idea Minneapolis day is four o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon in the late summer, when all the friendly spirits assemble. The ladies in sensible dresses coming out of Powers with a new pair of shoes, the men in hats stretching in the Donaldson’s tower and wondering if they should drive down to the strip this weekend, maybe catch a game at the Met; the janitor over the WCCO studio swabbing the floor so it shines when Cedric Adams comes in for his broadcast, the lonely guy heading into the Gopher to kill time before the bus takes him out of town, the secretaries at the Bridgeman’s having a malt before heading home on the trolley to tiny flats in Uptown. I can wave but they don’t wave back. Ungrateful shades! I see the town in terms many wouldn’t recognize – either the history long vanished my own history no one would know, or particularly care about. In New York or Chicago or any other large city there’s so much history you can explore it forever, but sometimes it feels like there’s not enough here to keep me going forward. Every place I go is thick with history, and half of it’s meaningless, the result of the inevitable accretion of tracing the same route for too many years. The history that actually means something is a phantom, and somewhat of a bother. What would it be like to live somewhere and not see what had been there before?

I left Fargo for a reason, after all.

But of course you’re running away from yourself when you do something like this, right? Well, no. Wherever you go, there you are. But at least in Arizona, you’re warmer, and CRIMINEY JUDAS I’m tired of being cold all the time. You oughtn't
be cold in May. I walk outside to the gazebo – can’t sit down, the seats are wet – and I can see my breath. Which is nice, because it means I’m alive. But still.

All I know is that I’m coming to the end of a line, somehow. All I know I don’t want to die in a place where you can’t wear shorts in July. It’s 54 degrees here right now, and 95 in Scottsdale. The forecast here: cloudy and 10 degrees below normal into June. The forecast in Arizona: sunny and hot into the 29th century. If I spent my days in an office I might be less peeved, but even so I’d be ground down by the drizzling weekends, the panic that a cold July brings, the sense that winter is ready to slam the hand down again at the earliest possible opportunity.

I really do love it there. Everytime I go to Arizona I think: yes, sir, this is for me. So I have a project. A five year project. I have to reconnect; clear the decks; remember why I love it here and make it work. If in five years I discover that the Minneapolis I love is a thing of fiction made of old photos and postcards, it’s time to till the soil. When I came back here the thought that I’d drive these streets as an old man was a comfort, and it may well end up so. It’s also possible I end up braking into a skid on some March sleet and get broadsided as I pass through Lake Street for the 95,933rd and final time, and my last thought will be: so much sun you could have had. So much sun.

Plus, they sell wine in grocery stores there.

Make that a four-year project.

Note: my father, an eternal North Dakotan in his high seventies, called me tonight from the road, somewhere between Fargo and Minneapolis; he's heading to the cities in one of his semis to pick up a load of aviation fuel. He hates the weather too, because it's too cold and wet to enjoy
driving his new Harley. (That's my Dad.) I said I was considering moving to Arizona. He said I should, and he'd be down to visit as often as he could. From my Dad, a lifelong plainsman, this is like the Pope walking into a mosque and shouting "Whaddya got, boys?" It's getting to us, it is. It's getting to us all.

Perm link: here.

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