What do you want?

Written by hootenannie on June 11th, 2018

She is curled at my feet, nose tucked beneath her tail. Right now she is peaceful, worn out from our after-dinner walk in which she had a chance to run free through the woods. When she emerged with a rabbit’s leg, severed from the rest of the body, stripped of flesh save the furry foot, her off-leash privileges ended.

When I tell people about Foxy’s hunting habit, many recoil; nature can be harsh. But here is the honest truth: I love watching my dog run. The girl knows what she wants; when she spots a squirrel or a chipmunk, she drops to a crouch, tense for a split second before rocketing into the chase, transformed by primal instinct like a wolf in Yellowstone. It’s as if she finally remembers what she truly is, what she was made for. Foxy may be cute, but beneath her domestication, she’s as wild as they come.

I think I’m jealous.

I’m told that as a toddler, I loved to run naked. Once my mom heard the front door unlatch, and by the time she made it outside, her unclothed 2-year-old was halfway down the block. Listen, I was born to be free!

Somewhere along the line, I was expected to get myself under control — which, when it comes to matters of clothing, is definitely for the best. Many guidelines we are given as children certainly help form us into respectable human beings, not to mention law-abiding citizens, bless our toddler streaking selves.

But in learning to follow the rules, is it possible that something significant could be lost? In squelching our instincts, might we be subduing an inner wildness that perhaps needs to be shaped, but was never meant to be tamed?

Of all the questions Jesus posed during his life on earth, there is one that hits me straight in the heart: “What do you want?” (John 1:38). Referencing this inquiry, James K.A. Smith says, “This is the most incisive, piercing question Jesus can ask of us precisely because we are what we want. Our wants and longings and desires are at the core of our identity, the wellspring from which our actions and behaviors flow” (You Are What You Love).

Surely a large part of what this means is that we have a responsibility to guard and curate our hearts, seeking to align our core desires with the heart of all that is good, creating habits that will help foster health and wholeness. This takes intentionality and work — because despite what this world would tell us, “Follow your bliss” isn’t exactly a reliable North Star.

But just like Foxy was created for the chase, each of us was created with a default orientation. We were created to long for something. And since he’s the one who made us, I believe Jesus’s question can also be taken at face value. Turning to the men who were about to become his first two disciples, he asks, “What do you want?”

The question feels stunning to me, probably because I often don’t know what I want — or, perhaps more accurately, I often don’t trust that I know what I want. Unlike my beloved, uncivilized dog, I fear that some of my God-given instincts have been trained out of me, leading me to play it safe and settle for small. As much as I want to, I have trouble dancing at weddings. Regardless of how I’m drawn toward beauty, I avoid extravagance. Despite the urge — and there is definitely an urge — I never raise a ruckus.

But for those who seek God, we can trust that our desires were placed inside our hearts by God himself (Psalm 37:4). They are there to serve a purpose, even if only to point us back to our Creator. Saint Augustine famously wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” This statement implies design — both that we were designed by God, and that we were designed for God. Our heart’s ultimate desire is always God himself, and our unique individual longings exist to point us back to the One who made us.

Watching my dog run full tilt through a field, I have sometimes jokingly co-opted Irenaeus’s line to say, “The glory of God is Foxy fully alive.” But just as every creature on earth was made by a Creator, for a Creator, Irenaeus’s original words ring all the more true: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

I do not want to shy away from all I was created to be. I want to chase after the longings I was made for. I want to live like Foxy: running wild and free, head thrown back, howling at the moon for the love of my Maker.

The wild beast, captured by Ashley Parsons (www.wearetheparsons.com)

[This piece was written as a part of Lore Wilbert’s Writing Mentorship course. If you’re interested, I highly encourage you to apply for the next round this fall — it was so good for me.]

Writing and yoga

Written by hootenannie on June 4th, 2018

Over the past several months, I took part in Lore Wilbert’s Writing Mentorship course. If you don’t know Lore, well, me neither — at least not in person. But thanks to years of blog stalking, I’ve come to know her as a gorgeous writer: intentional, challenging, and smart as a whip. Our faith looks different in some ways, but I so respect the way she grapples with life and with God. In a world of “Christian influencers” where everyone is eager to spout off opinions on this or that, Lore balances both a weighty theology and a light-footed grace. She makes me want to know God more — which is to say, she makes me want to press further into mystery.

As a writer, I am learning that deadlines and accountability are my friends; this mentorship was a catalyst for writing more than I have written in years. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some of these pieces here on my blog, so be sure to check back.

In the meantime, one of the essays I wrote as a part of Lore’s course has found a home at Fathom Magazine, one of my favorite online spaces. Yay! It went live today. Here’s an excerpt, and here’s a link to the full piece.

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I open the door and the heat hits me like a solid wall. At 105 degrees, the air has morphed into a physical presence, thick and palpable, yet I willingly enter the room. I am early. I want to get a good spot, because the only thing worse than being strangled by heat is being strangled by heat and unable to follow the instructor. Not that I necessarily need a visual.

The sequence is always the same, 26 poses in unchanging order. Some might consider the repetition monotonous, but these days, I find the predictability a comforting liturgy. This flow has served as consistency when life has been anything but. I have been coming to this yoga studio for ten months now, ever since I left my home for the last time and drove south. Ever since the day everything fell apart. (Continue reading…)

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If you’re interested in Lore’s Writing Mentorship course, she’s planning on hosting another round in the fall. I can’t recommend it highly enough; she crafts the entire thing with such care, and I grew as a writer and a human. Follow her online and watch for the application!

So Close

Written by hootenannie on February 12th, 2018

I’ve been writing some new songs. I don’t know what will come of them, but they’re forming up, taking shape, becoming.

I wrote this one awhile back. I’ve held it close because it was written from a very raw place; even listening back to it now, it stings. But it’s the truest story I’ve ever told, and tonight I want to share it.

I’m someone who has always found it very easy to be honest about my pain. Thank you for giving me the space to do so. As it returns, I promise to be honest about my joy, too.

The Minneapolis Miracle

Written by hootenannie on January 15th, 2018

By now you’ve all seen it, right? Last night’s last ditch pass from Vikings quarterback Case Keenum to wide receiver Stefon Diggs, resulting in a game-winning touchdown in the last 10 seconds of the game.

Watch it here:

And again here:

And this one, for good measure:

They’re calling it historic, legendary, the Minneapolis Miracle. Things like this just don’t happen… until they do. And when they do, we all — sports fans or not — lose our minds. We scream. We jump up and down. Kids light up and grown men cry. We can’t believe it — but look around. Everyone else saw it, too! We confirm the good news to each other with grins and hugs and tears and cheers, and wake up the next morning shocked and hoarse and happy.

I’m not a very good sports fan. I love the Denver Broncos, but they had a disappointing year and I lost steam toward the end of this season. I like to go to baseball games, but mostly for the hot dogs and people watching. I couldn’t tell you anything about basketball except running and shooting and sometimes dunking (?). There’s no good reason I, Annie Parsons, should be thinking about sports today, except that it taps into something that I major in:

FEELINGS. (You knew it was coming.)

My favorite genre of film is the DISM: the Disney Inspirational Sports Movie (trademark: me). If you want to see me cry, turn on The Rookie or Miracle. If you want to see me bawl, it’s Remember the Titans. I even loved the one about cross country, for crying out loud (McFarland, USA). These stories are about the underdogs, the impossible dream, the ragtag group of far-shots that band together to do something bigger than any one of them could have done alone.

The very best part of every one of these movies is the montage. You know what I’m talking about — the two-minute compilation of short scenes spliced together in order to save time while still showing progress. There’s usually an up-tempo song playing in the background, advancing the story but sparing the viewer any quotidian details — because daily tasks, even the ones that ultimately lead to victory, tend to be unsexy.

Remind me of this tonight when I put in my nightguard.

Anyway, I think this is why I loved Michael Phelps’ commercial for Under Armour. It aired during the 2016 Olympics in the midst of him winning all of those gold medals, serving as a reminder that his glory was only a result of all of the hours of unseen work.

Listening to interviews with the Vikings after last night’s game, they confirmed that this was a play that they’ve run over and over in practice. They put in the work, not knowing when or where they might need it — but when that moment came, they were ready for it. To borrow from the Phelps commercial, it’s what they did in the dark that put them in the light — and whether or not we’re professional athletes (I’m basically positive that no one reading this is — no offense, dear reader), I’m pretty sure this is inspiration we could all apply to our lives in some way or another.

Twenty four hours later, my social media feeds are still all purple. I’m thrilled for my many longsuffering Minnesotan friends, and am pulling for the Vikings to be in the Super Bowl at home — something no team has ever accomplished — in just a few weeks.

Until then, you can find me here, hanging out on YouTube, still crying.

Christianity is not the American Dream

Written by hootenannie on January 7th, 2018

I grew up as a pastor’s daughter, an identity that I largely shook when I left home at 18, but which played an undeniable role in my formation. In getting to know other pastor’s kids (PKs) over the years, I’ve found some common threads in our experiences; for example, the pressure of visibility, unfair expectations from certain members of the church community, the learned ability to be whoever we needed to be for the given person in front of us, and stealing the leftover communion bread to wolf down in the fellowship hall (privilege negates sacrilege).

Some PKs seem to resent their upbringing, but for the most part, I enjoyed mine. While nowhere in the bible, my marching orders seemed clear: follow the rules and Jesus will love you — or was it Jesus loves you, so you’d better follow the rules? Either way, for this natural rule follower, it all seemed reasonable enough.

Church felt safe to me because I was good at it. I felt at home in Sunday School and church musicals and youth group and worship teams, and always knew I had a big group of people who loved me and were rooting for me. I had the answers to the questions, and prayed fervently over life’s most dire concerns: algebra tests and my future husband. After leaving my hometown to study music at a Christian college, I went to work full-time at a large Presbyterian church. For the first 25 years of my life, I coasted on what was largely an inherited faith — one that served me well as long as I stuck with like-minded people, followed the rules, and did everything right.

In other words, it was only a matter of time.

The past ten years have been a process of disintegration as I began to discover that the “faith” of my upbringing was largely circumstantial and hardly personal. Not only could I not keep up with “the rules,” I realized that I didn’t want to — because as it turned out, no amount of rule following prevented babies from dying or parents from divorcing or bodies from breaking or hearts from shattering. For all I had given God — that is, my deeds, my schedule, my proclamations — how dare he not come through on his end of the bargain? The bargain being, you know, keeping me and everyone I love safe and happy and comfortable. THAT’S THE DEAL, God.

As it turns out, that’s not the deal.

More and more, I’m coming to believe that this is the deal, the only deal: God wants us just as we are, not as we should be, and that we are called to be like Jesus. And if you know anything about the life of Jesus, this means taking our battered and broken down selves and scrapping our reputation in favor of loving the unlovable, welcoming the outsiders and outcasts, sacrificing on behalf of others, forgiving without condition, and suffering. There will be suffering.

In western culture, Christianity has long been sold as a happy, therapeutic path to self-actualization: love God, be a good person, and he’ll give you a great life. But Christianity is not the American Dream. At the risk of being a total killjoy, the true nature of Christianity is costly: join Jesus, give your life away, and die.

Surely this definition would dissuade many from faith. But if churches were more honest about the true path of following Jesus, I wonder if Christians would have a healthier, more realistic view of what it is that we’re actually buying into. I wonder if we wouldn’t feel so entitled to a cute, happy life, and indignant when we don’t get it. I wonder if we’d be more willing to give ourselves away, seeing as how we’re following a man who willingly walked to a brutal death on a cross.

The thought scares me, because who actually wants to live a life marked by selflessness? Here, I’ll go first: I DON’T. I generally prefer a quid pro quo sort of God, one who will reward my faithfulness with recognition and bounty; it’s only fair. And as we’ve already established, I’m amazing at “the rules” — so this kind of arrangement would work out pretty well for me.

But Jesus takes “the rules” and throws them out the window, because he values relationship over transaction. As such, the Christian life is full of paradoxes:

What if death isn’t what we assume? What if death is the pathway to life — and not just the “die and go to heaven” sort of eternal life, but kingdom come life here and now? What if dying up front sets us free to really live? What if being stripped of all falsehood leaves our truest selves exposed? What if the end is the beginning?

If you’re lucky enough to be in a season of life that feels abundant and beautiful, that is a gift and you absolutely should soak it up. But if you, like me, are a Christian who is looking around at all that is passing away and sometimes thinking, “Wait, I didn’t sign up for this,” be encouraged — because maybe we actually did.

Longing for home

Written by hootenannie on November 16th, 2017

It’s been four months since I left Minneapolis, four months since I sent my things to storage and walked out of my house for the last time.

I have a hard time talking about losing my house — and yes, that is the language that makes most sense to me: losing my house. Because while it was my decision to sell it (and I made that decision wholeheartedly at the time), just three weeks before closing, my life and my circumstances changed. In the end, I was forced to leave that house not on my own terms. Suddenly, in the context of the new shape of my life, it was being taken from me in a way I couldn’t stop.

I lost my house.

I hesitate to use this analogy, because I want to be sensitive to those who have experienced this nightmare in a literal sense. But I hope you’ll give me grace when I say that packing my house was a sort of emotional stillbirth: informed that the life I was expecting had no heartbeat, I still had to labor, only to arrive on the other side with… nothing. Stacked on top of the relational loss that I was simultaneously experiencing, it’s one of the most profoundly sad things I’ve ever been through.

So here I am, four months later, still processing, still without a home. Thanks to the kindness and hospitality of family and friends, I’m not exactly “homeless”; I’ve never been without a bed, and I know I never will be. But it’s exhausting to live out of suitcases and duffel bags and the backend of a car. It’s hard to be organized when you don’t have your own space. It’s inconvenient to bounce from place to place with a dog in tow. It’s frustrating to realize that so many things you wish you had are buried deep in a storage unit somewhere in the suburbs of Minneapolis.

I have given myself these months to sort through my options, ask big questions, and make some decisions. I still don’t know where those decisions will ultimately lead me. But I see no harm in telling you that when it comes to re-rooting, Nashville, Minneapolis, and Kansas City are the cities on the table.

Right now, I am free in every way. I’m single. I have no financial ties or dependents. I have a job I can do from anywhere. The world is wide open to me, which sounds like a dream — but to be honest, this sort of openness feels less like freedom and more like a burden. If you’ve never been in a similar situation, take it from me: when anything is possible, the abundance of options can be paralyzing.

So while some people are encouraging me to continue to float from place to place, to extend this untethered season for as long as I can (probably because they’ve never been in this position, which makes it easy to romanticize), I’ve decided that it’s time to decide. I believe we’re wired for commitment, and that commitment — to a place, a person, or a vocation — equals freedom. Responsibility, routine, and ritual root us in a healthy way, and I’ve found this rootedness difficult to maintain without the consistency of home.

I also believe that we’re created to long for home, and that while this longing is ultimately a symptom of our homesickness for heaven, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t create a nest here and now. So I hope to have some news to share about where my next home will be soon. I think I know where I’m leaning, but who knows, man? I have a lot of options.

A new season

Written by hootenannie on October 3rd, 2017

I’m in the Pacific Northwest where the leaves are the color of sweet potatoes, the color of pumpkins. After a long, brutal summer, it’s as if all of nature is conspiring to remind me that it’s time for a new season.

Madeline L’Engle says, “Until I can mourn the loss of a dream, I cannot be comforted enough to have vision for a fresh one,” and she’s right. When life drops out from beneath your feet, there is no getting back to business as usual. The past several months have been saturated with emptiness, and for a while there, I was passing my days like a ghost. People have asked, “So what do you think you’ll do next?” but there has been no way to answer. Mourning the loss of a dream can be all consuming — and for one who historically has been relatively strong, I’ll be honest: the experience came as a shock.

But like C.S. Lewis says, “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”

As I lay my options on the table, I realize that I am lucky to have so many. I am rich in opportunities, possibilities, and most of all, relationships; if I’ve learned anything through what happened, it’s that my people are fierce, loyal, and will show up and show out on my behalf. While I still don’t have a clear vision for my future, I am starting to remember what it feels like to be me — which is to say that I am loved. What more could I ask for, really?

When dashed against the rocks and cast adrift from all that once seemed so solid, it’s tempting to want to cling to pieces of the life I had before. I’m like Jack from Lost, yelling after Kate, “We have to go back!” but there is no going back. There is no resuscitation of what once was. The only hope for a way forward is resurrection — and unfortunately, the obvious prerequisite for resurrection is… death.

I recently read Jonathan Martin’s How to Survive a Shipwreck, and perhaps not-so-ironically, it was a life raft for my stunned and battered heart. This passage jumped off the page and grabbed me:

“Coming to the end of anything — the end of an era, the end of a relationship, the end of ourselves — is so horribly frightening when you are on the front side of resurrection… But I would encourage you, softly and gently, to consider carefully anything in your life that is half-dead — existing on a ventilator. And to at least be open to the possibility that it could be time to unplug the ventilator. Not as an act of cowardice or an act of resignation, but as an act of bold, courageous faith — putting all your weight down on the hope of resurrection. What looks like resignation may be the ultimate act of faith, the supreme expression of trust. And what you are keeping on life support may be exactly the thing that is keeping you from the wonder and terror of new life.”

I have been opting for resuscitation over resurrection, but there is no life for me there anymore. A new season is waiting — and I’m feeling just audacious enough to believe it.

The blaze of autumn leaves will soon be dead on the ground. But in their falling, space is being made for new life. It’s the most achingly beautiful thing I can think of.

No grit, no pearl

Written by hootenannie on September 6th, 2017

Several years ago, I took to writing the word “grit” on my wrist. Any time I was faced with a challenge, emotional or physical, I would take a Sharpie and give myself a visible reminder to hang tough.

Because that’s what grit is: courage in the face of anything. Strength of character. Steely-eyed endurance. Firmness of mind. An indomitable spirit. Pluck. I like these descriptions; they’re traits I’d like to embody, words of fortitude, resilience, and backbone. “Grit” was on my wrist when I climbed a host of Colorado mountains by myself, when I went into difficult meetings at work, and when I ran my first marathon earlier this year. Associating myself with the concept of grit, no matter how contrived, makes me feel strong and capable and — if I’m honest — like a badass. I like this version of grit.

But there’s a more literal, concrete definition: grit can simply refer to rough, loose particles of stone or sand. The other day, I was walking Foxy on a dirt trail in flip-flops, and felt the sharpness of dust and gravel slide in against my feet. Grit can be abrasive. Grit can be painful.

Anyone who has gone through major loss knows that there are moments in which survival feels impossible. Sharp sadness invades uninvited and rubs so raw it feels as if your heart cannot go on beating, that the open wound of gritty grief might actually kill you. This has been true for me in the aftermath of my recent unraveling. On the worst days, my heart has felt so exposed, so sore, that I have been tempted to react desperately and defensively. I’m ready to build a shield to protect myself from ever hurting this way again.

But then I remember, that is not how the pearl gets made.

Like our hearts, oysters are soft and tender, relying on their hard shells to keep them safe. But occasionally, a grain of sand will sneak in, and this coarse foreign object — this grit — can cause pain, rock against flesh. One might think that the oyster would react protectively, forming a leathery callous to protect itself, but it doesn’t. The oyster remains soft, yielding to the suffering, and slowly, over time, begins to wrap the grain of sand in translucent layers of beauty.

The pearl is the oyster’s response to the pain.

I wish it didn’t hurt so badly. I wish the pain could be erased. But as my friend Becky recently said to me, “God isn’t an eraser, he’s a redeemer.” There is no changing what has happened, no denial of what’s been done — but there is hope for redemption, for something beautiful and new. God brings beauty from ashes and pearls from dirt.

So I will keep my heart soft, giving myself over to the pain in the trust that it will be transformed. I will keep my back strong, summoning the courage and resolve to keep going. And I will keep my wrist inked — now permanently — with grit.

Grief, forgiveness, and love

Written by hootenannie on August 28th, 2017

A few months ago, my life was completely upended when a man I deeply loved betrayed my trust and broke my heart. While the details matter to me, all I’ll say is this: I was planning to move to Nashville so we could be together, but it didn’t happen. The relationship was serious enough to warrant me selling my house and putting a down payment on another — but when a man tells you there’s someone else, you do not follow through with a move across the country to be with him.

I have hesitated to write about this, because in doing so, I can only share my own experience. This person is living a now separate narrative, and despite the pain that his choices have put me through, I am not out to demonize or villainize anyone involved. He meant more to me than that. I’m just sad.

I want to be honest about what I’ve gone through, what I’m still going through. I am not writing from a place of resolution or remedy; the heartache is still very much in process for me because I lost so much. I lost a man who had become my best person. I lost a relationship I had been led to believe was “it.” I lost a dream of a future that had made so much sense — even felt confirmed and ordained by God, to be honest. I lost not one, but two houses. I lost any sense of direction or home. I lost the ability to trust. I lost 15 lbs and a whole lot of money. I lost everything we had been building toward. Cruelest of all, in some moments, I lost all hope.

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How do you hold the conflicting emotions of heartbreak, anger, and the remnants of love all at the same time? It’s an unbearable tension. But here is what I’m learning.

GRIEF
To experience grief in all of its awful fullness is human and healthy. To sidestep it, whether through alcohol, travel, social media, shopping, sex, or tattoos, is to cauterize our humanity. It’s best to lean straight into the pain; if we don’t, it will seep like oil through a bed of dead leaves, poisoning life from the ground up. Numbed-out grief leads to anger, anger leads to depression, depression leads to a critical spirit and a lack of peace.

But grief? We are promised that grief leads to comfort. Beauty. Dancing. I want to be a person who looks my pain in the eye, regardless of what it costs me, and then rest in knowing that there is still goodness ahead — eventually.

FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is not primarily for the one you are forgiving. It’s for you. Choosing to forgive sets you free from the bondage of what was done to you, the pain that was inflicted upon you. It doesn’t change it, it certainly doesn’t excuse any of it — but it loosens your chains and allows you to move forward, inch by inch, breath by breath, day by day. When you release the grip on your right to harm the other person, you get your hands back. You get your life back. Slowly.

It doesn’t happen all at once. I’m finding it’s something I have to do over and over in the hopes that one day my heart will match the choice. It stings like a death; a grave is involved, the burying of a perfectly good hatchet.

Nothing about it feels fair. Nothing about it feels justified. But isn’t that the point?

LOVE
You cannot love without risk. There is no such thing. The pain I’m in comes from the love I felt, because I was brave enough to show up as my fullest, truest self and enter a relationship that mattered. And when you truly love someone, you don’t get to be in control. To force, to clutch, to cling, to do whatever it takes to get your way — that is not a picture of love. That is a picture of fear. Fear is a liar, and the opposite of love.

This may have ended in disaster for me, but I will never regret opening my heart to hope and allowing myself to be known by another. It’s the bravest thing I’ve ever done, and a testament to strength, not weakness.

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I am not “recovered.” This experience has altered my insides in ways I struggle to articulate. I was left heartbroken and homeless, and some days I’m still so sad, when I walk around I swear you can hear my heart rattle in my chest. Time truly is the only healer for something so brutal, and unfortunately, there’s no way to fast-forward. But I’ve made it through these first few months; here I raise my Ebenezer.

You may be wondering where I am. I obviously had to move out of my Minneapolis house in July, gutted and reeling, suddenly with nowhere to go. But thanks to my amazing friends and family, I’ve found places to go. Foxy is with me, of course. We’re being taken care of.

I have missed sharing my life in a virtual way. It didn’t feel right for me to carry on posting like nothing had happened, because racking up likes and comments is a false balm. The pain of this betrayal has been potent, and it’s been important for me to honor it by bearing the full weight of what I’ve lost. But I’m still here.

The path I took to get here has washed out behind me. The way forward isn’t yet clear. But I’m gathering the broken pieces in hopes of building something new. It’s not the future that I wanted, but it’s the future that I’m going to get. And somehow, I want to live it well.

You’ll be hearing from me again soon, grief and forgiveness and love intermingled, moving forward and holding on to hope for dear life.

Huge thanks to my amazing sister-in-law Ashley Parsons for capturing this image. You’ve helped remind me that I’m strong in a season when I’ve felt anything but.

On the move… again

Written by hootenannie on June 23rd, 2017

This little dream house… I can’t believe it, but I’ll be handing the keys over to someone else in July. My two years in Minneapolis have been abundantly sweet, rich, and healing — and now it’s time to go.

I will miss the amazing friends I’ve made, my perfect fence, and the cheese curds. I will grieve the loss of my trails every single day (although the projected Southwest light rail was going to ruin them eventually anyway, ugh). I CANNOT BELIEVE I’ll miss the chance to rent this house through Airbnb for Super Bowl LII. But I will always, always be grateful that I had the chance to live here. Minneapolis was never on my radar until I started flying here for work in 2012, and I fell in love with it. Everyone should be so lucky to get a chance to live here — not just despite the winter, but even because of it. It makes you tough, it’s pretty darn beautiful, and even if you hate it, the summer makes up for it all.

As for where I’m headed, well… see you soon, Nashville!