29 December 2003

Monday Afternoon

Not quite 3:30 pm. I'm in Studio 207 in the Handicraft Guild Building in downtown Minneapolis, MN -- home of artist Kevin Cannon. [Kevin wants me to put a link here to his newest cartoon, DOBEY! -- Apparently, this is just the first of many episodes in the life of Dobey.... call the trumpeters, rejoice.] Just returned from a lunch near the window in a third floor niche overlooking 7th Street. Minneapolis today is a lovely snowglobe of quiet flakes and soft lights. In other words, home.

I looked forward to this moment for months: caught between the frozen earth and the great gray sky, surprised by sudden snow. It happened this morning, as Kevin and I walked to the ochre bricks and wooden doors of the Handicraft Guild Building. Snow.

It has snowed several times while I've been home -- when I was in Grinnell, I stood outside of Steiner at 3:00 in the morning and willed the tiny snowflakes to grow in the light of the old-fashioned streetlamps; when I was in Oregon, an entire day of tiny snowflakes outside my livingroom window; when I was driving home from Ila's house on Gorham, mentally beseeching the falling ice to switch to snow -- but this morning was the first perfect snowfall of the season (for me at least).

The last two weeks have been full of wonderful people (though sadly there are a few terribly important people I missed -- you know who you are) and great moments. Last night for example, sitting on the couch between Carrie and Kevin, laughing at some lame joke carried all the way from gourmet house... or sitting with Cindy and Memo as they opened their cactus... driving on Lincoln Road with my sister, talking about old loves and new lives... eating gross fast food breakfast with Ali on Summer Street -- and breakfast at the New West Side with Ali and Adam and Larry -- and breakfast with Jean in her sunny little kitchen -- and breakfast this morning with Kevin and Kate at Pannekoeken Huis, where the wait staff apparently has to sing out "Pannekoeken!!" every time they deliver one to a table.... The problem with all this, of course, is that I start to wonder what I'm doing 1500 miles away from the people I love best in the world.

One important thing I have realized coming home is that I can't see Oregon or Madison or Grinnell through new eyes. Wherever I look, I see layers -- I see things not only as they are now, but as they were when I was 21, and 18, and in Oregon, as they were when I was 9 and 12 and 4. My whole adult life, I've been searching for the eyes of a new writer -- looking for ways to make the world seem new again, as it was when I first picked up a pen and realized I could make the world my own through words. At home, I've lost the ability to be happily surprised, lost the ability to see the small streets of Oregon with wonder. In the west, I have new vision. In New Mexico, I have moments of sparkling clarity, where everything I see is illuminated.

As Mr. Root once told me, "The trick is to find that at home."

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