Minneapolis, it is time for me to leave you.
This is your Dear John letter; it’s not the first one I’ve written and it probably won’t be the last.
I’ve been thinking about leaving for a long time now, stashing away pennies and freelance checks so I could pack up my dinged-up car and get the hell out. I’ve watched so many of my friends do it, take off to greener pastures, and I think it’s almost my turn now.
It’s too cold. The cold has seeped into my veins and my heart and my brain. I can’t do it anymore. I’m exhausted. I’m frozen. I’m stymied. I’m holding myself back. I stay inside because I can’t bear the windchill biting at my fingers. I spend a lot of time in the bathtub staring at the ceiling or staring at my phone, thinking about the million places I’d rather be. I Google Image Big Sky, Malibu, the Catskills, South Carolina. I wake up hurting for the California desert, for the vast expanse of lights they call New York, for places I haven’t even been. I feel like a giant girl whose head is bumping the ceiling. I am always looking out the window.
I feel like half of myself. It’s funny because this is where I grew, this is where I became the Kara I wanted to be. When I was young, I dreamed of the woman I would be and I know I’ve gotten very close to that mythical figure in my head. But I’m not there yet.
I learned a lot in this city. I learned that I valued the group of friends I assembled, treasures each and every one, far more than the vintage dresses, the fancy shoes. I learned that falling in love should be easy, that you shouldn’t have to fight and cry to prove your love to someone. I learned the kind of tough lessons that hit hard, like falling on gravel and slicing your knees with an infinite number of tiny rocks.
I learned how to build a family out of roommates and classmates and coworkers. I learned that for every up, there are going to be two more downs. I learned to build a thick skin. I learned how not to be afraid in a crowd, I learned confidence. I learned how to lose a friend and then find them again. I learned how to hate someone I once wanted so badly, someone I thought I loved. I learned whose hands I could place my heart in. I got my heart broken, but I watched my friends’ hearts get healed.
I’m learning how to let go. It hasn’t been easy. I have to let go of my rose-tinted past, to let go of people whose presence still haunts my brain like a cruel ghost. I have to let go of this place. I can keep my memories safely under glass in my brain.
Once I read “The people who really matter, you’ll see them again” and I have found this to be absolutely true. I don’t mean you’ll see them again on Facebook or Instagram. I mean they’ll be breathing, living right next to you. People float in and out of your life, but those who dig deep into your heart stay there. I might leave Minneapolis, but I won’t leave the people I love.
When you live in a place for a certain number of years, you make it your home. You learn the roads, the shortcuts, the best place for a cheap drink. Your world expands with every person you meet. But then you might wake up one day and think, “This was home, but it isn’t anymore.” Things change, sometimes overnight.
I’ve had a fantastic amount of luck living in Minneapolis. I lucked into my friends, my writing, the silly amount of local visibility I have. People know my name here, and I did that all by myself. If I stop to think about it, I made that luck. I did it on my own, and I can do it someplace else. It might not be forever, but it’s time for me to try something new.
Minneapolis, it’s not totally your fault. You are beautiful for approximately four months of the year when it’s warm and I feel protected by the summer, by the lakes and the sunshine. You are full of beautiful people and beautiful things, and so even in the dead of winter you are beautiful. I love you so dearly, for you played a huge role in shaping me.
But I have to go.