24 days ago we returned from Chile to begin an extended summer holiday in the United States.
Arriving on the 3rd of July, we were launched head-first into PURE Americana. Grilled food, fireworks, backyard lunch gatherings with friends, kids in wading pools. Ah yes, the North Country in July is truly an experience.
After a few days we turned our sights south, loaded the family into the car, and headed to the Twin Cities and Southern Minnesota for 3 weeks — just 21 short days.
Oh how the time does fly.
But we Bartells know how to do 3 weeks well. After all, this isn’t our first rodeo. Give me a calendar and some flexible hours to divvy up and I can find a way to fit 6 months of social events into those 3 little weeks.
And SO, my friends, it came to pass that — even in that wee bit time — we managed to make eyeball to eyeball connections with OVER 80 dear friends and family members.
Yes. Over 80.
(pause for impressive oohs and aahs – I’ll wait).
Isn’t that AMAZING?
We somehow also found time to go to a children’s museum, a zoo, a county fair, a full-length musical, countless parks, 4 swimming pools, 3 lakes, an outdoor learning center, and no fewer than 18 restaurants or cafes (believe me, I have Lucas’s stashed hoard of children’s menu drawings and word search puzzles to prove it).
Oh yeah, and then there was that time I squeezed in a kid-free jaunt to Phoenix and road-tripped to the Grand Canyon.
This is NOT the minor leagues, my friends.
We play for keeps around here.
Well, this evening we returned once again to the Northland –my mom and dad’s house. And I cannot tell a lie: IT IS GOOD TO BE BACK. To settle into the guest house and know that bags can stay comfortably unpacked for three whole weeks. To rest in this quiet space. To not battle the traffic and construction zones and general go-go-go that the City creates in us.
I breathe deeply tonight and have no official plans on the docket for tomorrow. Nowhere to be but right here. Yes ma’am. Glorious.
And yet —
I already miss my other heart home — that city that ushered me into adulthood and the people that reside within those cherished spaces.
People that quite literally span EVERY. SINGLE. CHAPTER. of my story. Childhood friends, college friends, work friends, Hong Kong friends, former students, mentors, cousins from BOTH sides of my family tree, aunties and uncles. Heck, I even ran into an old choir director of mine while haunting the late night aisles at Cub Foods!
These people: They are critically important to me and to my story. They are the music makers. They are the time keepers. They are the ones who show up again and again regardless of years and distance.
They remind me that who I am is anchored deeply in who I have been — and in those who have linked arms and walked with me all these many years.
What glorious roots have been strengthened these past 21 days. And all the bleary eyes and late nights and overpriced children’s meals are 1000% worth it.
Because the people are worth it.
Thank you, Southern Minnesota, for the beautiful soul hug. Oh how I cannot wait to do it all over again next summer!
… And Northern Minnesota, be forewarned: We’re ready for ya!