Collectively, the people I follow on Twitter — book nerds, science nerds, journalists, the uncategorizably interesting — come pretty close to my dream community. They also function as by far the best news source I’ve ever used: more panoptic, more in-depth, more likely to teach me something, much more timely, cumulatively more self-correcting and sophisticated. Additionally, they’re immensely generous with their time and knowledge; in contradistinction to most Internet agoras, the Twitter I know is helpful, polite, and friendly. It’s also a meritocracy; say enough interesting things, and other people will begin to engage with you. Surprisingly often, that engagement crosses the digital barrier into real life — and, without exception, the people I’ve befriended on Twitter have turned out to be terrific.
thanksgiving has come and gone, in the blink of reading too much young adult fiction in front of my parents’ fireplace, and i didn’t take enough time to think about what i’m thankful for.
it’s been a weird couple months, full of more downs than ups. full of unrest at work, and unrest in my brain about what the hell it is i want to do next. a relationship that crumbled before it even got the chance to begin, and an email from You, after two years of silence, that both sucker punched me in the heart and reminded me to hold out for somebody I can love that hard.
this year’s been so, so very up and down, for all of it, but i am thankful. extraordinarily so, actually.
i’m thankful for having multiple places that feel like home. for a cozy kitchen in a cold town on the flat plains of north dakota, full of family members who hug frequently and the sound of laughter over a box of live lobsters. for a little, brick-walled apartment full of books in minneapolis that’s mineallmine and makes me want to slow down a little bit.
thankful for the people who made minneapolis a home in first place. for saturday adventures with alex, for long brunches with christine, for target and taco bell trips with my sister, for wine nights and concerts with all of you. i’m thankful for my twitter baes and the people who make me laugh out loud all day, every day.
i’m thankful that i’ve gotten the chance to travel this year. that i got to drive the blue ridge parkway in north carolina and the 101 in california. that i got to experience the gaudy excess that is beverly hills and the gaudy patriotism that is a nascar race in tennessee. that i got to pet goats in georgia and dine with foodies in new york city and explore portland from a cycling team’s van.
i’m thankful that i had a learning year. that i figured out a lot about what my breaking points look like, and how to handle the aftermath. that i tried things and let myself get excited and figured out just how liberating saying no can be.
i’m thankful for pizza and gchat and old cowboy boots. for the feeling of coming inside from a snowstorm and hugs that last a second too long. i’m thankful for worn-in hoodies and red lipstick and my flannel candle.
but mainly: i’m thankful that i have options. that i have the freedom to change and explore and love and cry and swear and fuck it up. that i’m allowed to break it down and build it up again if i want to, and that i have people who will love me no matter what along the way.
My heart is in North Dakota. It grew up there on the prairie, so flat you can see for endless miles. You’ve never seen open space like that. When I go home now, I like to stand in the middle of an empty gravel road and just wait. No cars or trucks drive these roads often enough to make me move. My heart is there in the fields my family tended, in the creek behind our house where generations of farm dogs swam. It’s there in the cemetery we buried my beloved grandma in. It’s there in the small town where I cut my teeth, where I’d sit at the tiny library and dream of a different world. It’s there in the sugarbeet trucks that thunder down the road at all hours of the night in the fall.
My heart is here in Minneapolis. It’s here in this city where I moved knowing no one and managed to carve out a little niche, form a little tribe of lovely people. It’s here in the lakes that sparkle all summer, it’s here even when the cold is extra-bitter and uninviting. A little bit of my heart is in every house I’ve lived in; I always like to leave a little piece of me for the next resident. My heart is here in the wreckage of a relationship that won’t be put to be until I pack my bags and leave for good. Minneapolis has been my home for a handful of years, and I’m not sure I’m ready for it not to be.
But sometimes, I feel like the city and all its residents are standing on my chest. I have to pack up my car, fill it with a tank of gas and drive 300 miles to my farm. There, I can breathe. I can sleep all day in my childhood bedroom, which has since been painted and redecorated in my absence. I can wander around for miles with the dogs for company. I can sit on the patio and watch the sun slip down below the horizon. I can get in the combine with my high school boyfriend and keep him company during grain harvest. My heart is there, where my big, loud family is, where my roots were planted. But I can only spend so many days in that lovely meandering quiet until I feel restless.