Morning Coffee and Picture Post

Sunday, my friend Emma texted me at 3 in the morning asking if I wanted to go to Duluth with her and Lance for the day. I thought about it, and I knew that I really should have been doing research, but I also felt like I just needed to go.

And so I did!

It was absolutely beautiful. I love Duluth, I would move there in a heartbeat. (Well, after moving out of the Midwest for a couple of years…)

Once we got there, it turned out that there was a Tall Ship Festival going on, and so it was really overrun with tourists. We walked through Duluth, went down to the beach, hung out there for a bit, and then decided to take a drive up the North Shore to find something with less people.

Emma and Lance were both really tired, so they took a nap on the pebble beach we found. I was in a contemplative mood, so I spent the time writing down some thoughts. I’ve got a new novel rattling around in my brain, and I finally felt inspired enough to get some plotting done. Somehow, this always happens when I visit Lake Superior. Or it could have been how inspiring this day was in particular.

Here are some more photos of the gorgeous beach we found:

I’m excited about the idea of this new novel. Since returning home, I’ve entered into pseudo-research mode on it. Thankfully, I feel like there is a lot of research necessary, but that it’s all stuff I am sort of naturally interested in already.

In other news, research is almost over. Just a few more revisions of my essay, cleaning up the footnotes, and sending it in on Friday. I’m antsy to move back home, and might even move most of my things this weekend. I’ve begun packing, and unless my brother flies in, I’ll be moving out on Saturday. This is mostly because I feel like I need help preparing for India – some stuff has come up with flights, financial aid, and my pre-program assignment that are just too stressful to deal with alone. I’ll run back into the cities a couple more times, to see some friends and say good-bye, but I feel the need to be home and spend time with the family.

To see all the pictures of the Duluth trip, go to my flickr account at http://www.flickr.com/photos/vintagewitch2010/.

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And thus the clouds cleared

Written mostly on Friday.

I’m writing this blog post from my very good friend Sara’s house. Despite all of the things that I had to do this week, despite how crazy I’ve been feeling lately with details for studying abroad, I decided that it was important to take a couple of days and come up to visit her.

And am I ever glad that I did!

Sara is a wonderful person, and I was really needing to get away from the city for a while. It’s astonishing, how I can be fairly self-aware and yet not really recognize when I need to get away from the city. I couldn’t even really tell that something was getting “off,” it was just this general feeling of panic. And then I got in the car, and half an hour out of the city I felt this overwhelming sensation of peace and comfort, simply because I was on the road, the view of Minnesota fields at sunset was gorgeous, I was listening to the Beatles full blast, and was getting ready to see Sara for two days.

Life is beautiful when you have friends as amazing as mine.

I got in around 8:30 pm on Wednesday, and hung out with Sara’s dad until she got off work. He’s a pastor with the United Methodist Church, and has some pretty amazing stories about visiting Cuba, India, and generally life. When Sara got home, we just talked and talked and talked, and she took me out to see the stars. I saw stars. Without having to squint! It was glorious.

Yesterday while she was at work, I went to her mom’s office and just sat and worked on my research all morning. It was pretty glorious – I got a ton accomplished. Then after she got off work, she came to get me and we explored her hometown. She showed me the co-op, the cool little cafes, bookstores, etc. It was just so pleasant to be with someone that I see so very rarely, exploring a small town in Minnesota.

These past couple of days have done so much to clear my head. I feel like things are making much more sense now. It’s like someone cleaned out whatever was plugging my brain, and I’m thinking clearly for the first time in at least a couple of weeks.

For example, I’ve had pretty bad writer’s block on my research this week, and yesterday while Sara was at work I managed to work for four hours straight without really burning out. I revised the hell out of my essay, and then this morning I got up and did another overhaul of it.

And even more exciting: I’ve begun plotting another novel. Taking very baby steps, but the main character has started to unfold. Even if I don’t end up writing it, it feels wonderful to have a story rattling around in my head again.

This summer I’ve struggled with my feelings surrounding transition. After this point in my life, I feel as though very little will be the same. For the first time in my life, I’m facing the Great Uncertainty. I don’t have a plan, and that’s how it’s supposed to be right now. And I feel as though over the last two days, I’ve finally started to be ok with that. I can’t control what will happen in India (not a big shocker there), but I also can’t conceive of how I’ll feel on the other side of that experience, and I am so excited about that.

Because as much as I am a person who needs a home and stability, I also thrive with wanderlust. I do some of my best thinking while walking, driving, flying, riding the bus, whatever – when I’m in transit, I’m content. And this whole summer I’ve been cultivating my ties to the Twin Cities, but with the very real and new understanding that I’m out of here soon.

Detachment. That’s what this is. Not that I’m not engaged in what I’m doing, but I know that I won’t return to this city in the same way.

I don’t intend to lose my relationships with my friends here. I will always have a part of my heart that loves the Twin Cities. But I will have to carry them with me, rather than live in them. So much of me is made up of my friends, my relationships with people and places. It’s like this little center of self can be transported, roots don’t have to reach the ground. I just have to remember who is important to me, and where I come from.

I’m going to continue to work on this portable home.

I also have discovered a very distinct need for wild places. I felt this my Freshman year of college, but then wrote it off as me not “getting” city life yet. But no: I need to recharge in a place that is not teeming with people. Even getting away to a small town did me a world of good. And I remember feeling so recharged and wonderful after the bike trip earlier this summer. While in school, life has been so busy that I haven’t cultivated my wonder at nature and natural beauty. It’s just been hard, for one reason or another, to get out of the Twin Cities for a weekend in the woods.

I think that’s something I will purposefully pursue coming back from India. I have a backpacking pack now, all that’s really left is a wilderness winter coat and hiking boots, and maybe some cooking equipment, which my parents have told me repeatedly that I can borrow. So now it’s just finding the time and doing it. And both of the places that I’m looking at moving – Seattle and Denver – have extensive parks very close to them.

No more excuses, Abbie. You just need to get out there.

Perhaps more introspection of this sort later. For now, I’ve got Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, a glass of wine, and a bedroom to clean up. Have to start packing for the move home.