Weekend in Photos // October in Minneapolis

Minneapolis | Freckled Italian

We're back from a beautiful long weekend in Minneapolis and I'm excited to get back into my regular routine--after two weeks in Roanoke and four days in the Midwest, I was starting to feel a little disoriented. But I definitely needed some time away to relax and, and we can never pass up an opportunity to visit Minnesota! It was so wonderful to see all of our friends and eat at all of our favorite places--plus a few new ones!

I want to thank you all so much for your support and for bearing with me as I took some time away last month--it means the world to me to know that you're out there, reading and sticking with me. I'm so excited for fall and work and to get back to regular life again!

Weekend in Photos // Back to Minneapolis

Rob and I had such a great trip to Minnesota this weekend--we got home late last night and are spending this Martin Luther King Day relaxing at home and getting unpacked before another week starts. I wasn't sure how visiting Minneapolis was going to feel--would I miss it more? Would I feel like Charlotte was finally our home? (The answer ended up being a little of both.)

I didn't take too many photos with my camera while I was in Minneapolis, but here are the few that I did! It was so nice catching up with my lovely friends whom I haven't seen in almost six months. We went to almost all of our favorite restaurants, drank great coffee, attended a sweet baby shower, and enjoyed a few really warm days (by Minnesota standards, of course). It was such a nice trip and I can't wait to get back again--hopefully in the summer next time!

How was your weekend? I'm headed back to the airport on Wednesday to catch a flight to Salt Lake City for Alt Summit!

On Settling In: Part Two (and Noodles)

On our way home from the grocery store the other night, Rob and I walked past a Thai restaurant in our neighborhood and it reminded me of a bad day I had in July. Rice noodles in savory beef broth or topped with peanut sauce and bean sprouts are sort of my comfort food, so whenever I'm sad or upset (or just hungry), you can usually find me ordering Pad Thai takeout (or a big huge bowl of pho). We got food from there once but haven't been back, even though it's within walking distance.

As we walked down the street, grocery bags in hand on our way home together, that restaurant on the corner said hey, you live here in a way that nothing else really has so far here in Charlotte.

In July, Rob was already working here during the week and I was in Minneapolis packing up our stuff. He'd come home on the weekends and we'd do all of the things we used to do when he lived there and I was the one visiting--Modern Times breakfasts and happy hours at Chino Latino and visits to kooky bookstores with almond milk lattes in hand. It was fun and it felt like vacation and one weekend he stayed and I came to Charlotte for the week, where we stayed at the Residence Inn he had been living out of. One night I felt overwhelmed and anxious, so we picked up two orders of Pad Thai and ate them in bed at our hotel while we watched whatever was on TV. I never felt like I lived somewhere less than at that moment, crying into my Styrofoam container of not-spicy-enough noodles.

We always said we were going to stay in Charlotte and I think we will, which is why we haven't yet put much effort into getting to know it. There's no rush like there was in Minneapolis, where we spent only a year and a half combined. Rob was there for six months alone and then I joined him from August to August and we went to museums and concerts and as many restaurants as possible. We saw lakes and walked around Minnehaha Falls. We went to Wisconsin twice and drove to Chicago once and felt very much a part of the Midwest. And we ate the best Pad Thai from a little hole-in-the-wall place down the street from our apartment on a regular basis.

I look back on Minneapolis as this dreamy little pocket of time in our lives where the climate was extreme and most of the time we felt like we were living in a different world more than just a different state. We planned our wedding and got married and came home from our honeymoon to our first married summer and it was the best. I packed up our apartment and thought man, this is going to be hard to top.

But Charlotte is where we will celebrate our first married anniversary, and where we get a dog, and it's where we hang things on the wall without worrying about having to take it all down in eight months and fill the holes with that pink caulk that turns white when it dries. It might even be where we have children. We wake up and live regular days and we meet for lunch or coffee and we take the train and we walk everywhere and on the weekends we sleep in and I make eggs and we don't always go out much but our apartment really feels like home.

I think it was a literary criticism class where we talked a bit about vertical moments in stories; how books need horizontal ones as well--not just action, but quiet passages, too--and that's so true, isn't it? Because so much of life happens in the in-between. Even if it isn't snowing, and even if the Pad Thai you get one day when you're sad isn't that good.

So we walk to the grocery store and on our way home we quietly pass that Thai restaurant on the corner and I think hey, I live here and it's good.

Winter Dreaming

The first snow fell in Minneapolis this week and I missed it in a way that I had guessed I might, but wasn't really expecting. It came on the warmest day of the week so far in Charlotte--72 and sunny--and Rob and I sat outside on a patio eating burgers for lunch.

People (mostly Minnesotans) tell me that I'm being silly, or misremembering the winter, and I know that I was only there for one year and I still found myself missing my outdoor runs and feeling ambiguously sad on dark, frozen February afternoons. Yes, by the time March 20th rolled around and spring was nowhere to be found, I sometimes wondered what we were doing there, but the magic of winter in Minnesota was always there. Maybe it was because I came from Virginia, where the prediction of even a slight dusting of snow was enough to close down all schools and offices and wipe clean the bread and dairy isles in every grocery store as people battened down the hatches and rushed home to locate their flashlights.

Life goes on in Minnesota, regardless of the weather or if you came prepared, and that spoke to me in a deep way I never realized I needed it to. So whether or not it makes sense, I miss it. I miss the city and I miss my favorite coffee shop and breakfast spot and the places in Uptown we used to go for happy hour. I miss our Saturday afternoon lunch stop with the fireplace in St. Paul, and I realize that the majority of the things I loved in Minnesota, I loved more because it was so cold outside.

I miss the fireplaces in bars and drinking hot apple cider with caramel vodka, cuddled up watching trashy TV or holiday movies on my couch or a friend's. It may have one of the harshest climates ever, but Minneapolis took me in, made me feel at home, made me feel (and be) capable and self-sufficient, and for that it'll be my favorite city all year 'round.

In-Between Seasons

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Last "spring" (April in Minnesota), I scrolled through my Instagram feed with frustration and jealousy. Flowers, patios, iced coffees! People on the east coast were baring their shoulders and eating salads outside while I sat under a blanket, watching the snow fall outside.

And now "autumn" is upon Minneapolis (I use quotations again because those two in-between seasons are a little iffy up there), and friends are wrapping themselves in scarves and sipping on warm, pumpkin-flavored beverages. And once again I'm jealous, this time as I force a pair of jeans into the mid-80 degree North Carolina afternoon.

I lived in Minnesota for one winter--not long enough for it to become my new normal, but I let it in and felt it down deep and somehow it became a part of me, like I was supposed to be there; or like perhaps that winter had been within me all along.

I may not know what it's like to be there year after year as the snow piles up, feeling it in your bones and wearing on you. I have never hunted down the best patios all spring and summer or, in late August, exchanged groans and anxious faces, greeting people on the street like Game of Thrones characters--"winter is coming."

But I loved it there and felt at home-- loved the way the snow seemed to fall more often than not, loved the way you just dig in and deal with it, bringing your gloves with you everywhere and driving a little bit more slowly across icy roads. And yet here I am, settling in down south on a warm September day, daydreaming about fall and winter and sweaters and hot tea; laughing as I unpack our heavy winter coats and hoping to soon wake up to a hazy chill and that smell of leaves. Wondering where I belong, and already missing that impending northern snow.