"I MIss Minneapolis."  

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Somewhere between catching up on Big Time Attic's blog in the small hours of this morning and hearing Marilyn say these words as we lay in bed before I took her to work, I realized that this is what I felt, too.

The entire time we lived in Minneapolis, my spirits were buoyed by the thought that we would eventually return to California and be near all of our old friends and my family again. We would be able to see the mountains again, I would have all of my roleplaying buddies nearby, Campaign would once again be an option, and well, you know, California has all of the best fast-food restaurants. But there's a lot we left behind.

Our apartment had a really nice view. Even though we lived near the heart of the city, our courtyard felt roomy and was always beautiful to look at, no matter the season. Sure, there was snow and sub-zero degree weather for a really long portion of the year, but the groundskeepers always shoveled and Minneapolis's indoor heating is unparalleled when compared to any other place I've ever lived. When it was warm enough, I could always go for a walk in the courtyard, or across the street to the park, or down to the corner shop where we sometimes would get ice cream. Maybe it sounds a little trivial, but I liked how our apartment was laid out, even if it was kind of small. I liked the way the sunlight made the computer desk look, with all of our old wedding decorations and pictures on top.

Our cost of living in Minneapolis was a lot cheaper than it is here in Los Angeles. Even when I wasn't working there, it never felt like the cold hand of doom was hovering over us - Marilyn's paycheck seemed to cover us okay. Even though there was your usual variety of office-related quirks that Marilyn would come home and talk about every day, at least the Minneapolis branch had activities. Sometimes they'd go out for drinks. Apparently, the Los Angeles branch does nothing, offers nothing, outside of the drumbeat of routine work.

I had a network of artists nearby, whom were either local or content to be local after school was finished. There was Zander's International Cartoonist Conspiracy group, the Comics program people at MCAD, FallCon and MicroCon at the State Fairgrounds every year, and of course, Pat and Doug up in North Branch. Even though I hadn't yet gotten a paying job in comics, the possibility of it seemed very real and immediate, waiting for me as soon as I was ready. And as long as I was a student, I'd have the resources and workspaces of the school right across the street. Before we left, one of my friends at MCAD even suggested that we get a studio together. I had, more or less, an established pattern of work habits in Minneapolis. When I couldn't focus on my work at home, I could always go across the street and become more focused.

We had a church to go to. Even though we never completely felt like we fit in - and to be honest, we did keep them at arm's length most of the time - it wasn't very far away and I found the sermons edifying. The option to become more involved in small groups, classes, or outreach programs, was always there. And when that wasn't enough, I knew exactly where to find the Christian talk radio station, where I could hear sermons from a wide range of pastors...and I knew when each one was on the air.

We knew our neighbor well enough to go over to her apartment and watch TiVoed shows and eat homemade rum balls, and were on good terms with our landlady because we'd been there so long. We had a parking space in the garage, so our truck wasn't exposed to the elements all the time, and while gas prices were pretty outrageous, we never had to drive very far in a week, anyway. We had expected that prices would be cheaper in California, but as it turns out, they're about the same. Our neighbors here in the apartment building, while nice enough, are amazingly...fragrant. I now understand to some degree the complaint, "I live above a Chinese restaurant." There's always a new and unpleasant smell filling the hallway between our doors - ranging from wet dog to wet dog on fire - which seeps into our apartment by the afternoon. And there's a young girl living over there who apparently communicates only through screaming and crying.

And, of course, the Twin Cities has the best games and comics shop I've ever seen, or, it seems, I'm ever likely to see. The libraries there are similarly unparalleled.

Marilyn and I both came to the conclusion that we were meant to return to Los Angeles. Intellectually, it seemed the correct decision to make, given the proximity of friends, family, and familiar places, as well as being close to the entertainment industry (which would ideally mean the possibility of storyboarding work, if comics work didn't present itself). We had prayed about it individually, and when we came together and finally shared our conclusion, it was the same.

Los Angeles presents a lot of new challenges that I suddenly don't feel prepared for. Many of them simply require me to establish good habits, a routine of activity that benefits me. Laziness and distraction face me at every turn, just as they did in Minneapolis, but I don't have the same solutions available to me that I did in our old home.

I don't think that our coming back here was a mistake; I think I need to make that clear. But I miss what was familiar and what was good about Minneapolis to the degree that I'm now willing to overlook the things about it that we didn't like. I think that my difficulty in adjusting to post-art school life is currently compounded by adjusting to living here. It would have been easy to get a part-time job back at Northwestern Bookstore to supplement Marilyn's paycheck, and even if I couldn't find work right away, I don't think things would feel as tight as they are now. I'm a little frustrated that I need to complete my current classwork in order to really have a complete portfolio to shop around, and that while I'm taking this independent study class, I feel I have the worst of two worlds: too much work to juggle a full-fledged professional comics job at the same time, but none of the work I'm doing now will pay me a penny.

If I'm honest with myself, I have to admit that most of my complaints at this point in time are problems with myself that I have to overcome. We aren't driving that much right now; to drive Marilyn to work is about the same distance as it was in Minneapolis. We have a lousy view from our apartment, but if I want to go for a walk, the park in Valley Village is within reasonable driving distance. And as much as I miss visiting Pat, it is good to have other friends that I haven't seen in years nearby. As for finding a church, I just need to get off my duff and start hunting around. We've had two invitations to visit churches our friends go to, and haven't yet done so.

I think the difficulty right now is just the transition. Things aren't as easy as they were in Minneapolis - for me, at least, if not for Marilyn - and I'm being forced out of the comfort zone I had developed around me. I have some serious sink-or-swim challenges before me, and I've been dragging my feet in facing up to them. It's difficult to keep from taking a "grass is greener" attitude.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 08, 2008 at Friday, February 08, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

4 comments

Devin,

I love your attitude in this post. Honestly! You're being straight about your struggles and being straight too about the fact that some portion of it is on you.

It reminds me a bit of the Israelites leaving Egypt, in that what they left behind started to look really good in the face of their struggles. What I love to see is that your attitude isn't "Why did God lead us out here to die?" but rather one of just admitting that it's hard.

I'm convinced that if you prayed and came together and agreed that this is where God was leading - then it is. Which means that even though there's some giants in the way, He's leading you to a better place and it's going to be awesome.

I'll be praying for you guys. Take heart, go kill some giants and march around Jericho a few times and be sure that there'll be milk and honey flowing soon.

11:47 AM

Amen to the Slater's comment.

I felt nearly the same between leaving Toronto and getting back here (though, admittedly, I got to come back to the mountains and we had the distraction of Denver and Poncho's immanent arrival). We lived with my folks for a month before getting out place (which we couldn't afford, save that those folks were helping us out considerably). Money was non-existent, and the only jobs I could get were painting houses (which I was not good at and paid not well), and then delivering newspapers (which paid yet less well and kept me up all night). I was blessed to get jobs at some community colleges that started that fall, but I spent two to three hours a day driving and the rest of the time grading—meanwhile, Joanna was struggling to take care of two newborns.

It was pretty insane, and the life back in Toronto seemed ideal: I had been at a university studying a subject I loved and that had amazing resources, had handy public transportation, a vast array of cultural diversity on every hand, very nice friends and a good church, and everything seemed simpler. All the hassles (like the 6-foot roof of our basement apartment, and our own fragrant presents from our landlords) seemed now suddenly minor compared to all the advantages.

It can feel brutal to make the transition. But it's also a challenge God is presenting you with. I found that if I looked at everything as an obstacle and a pain, it only made things that much worse. Had I known what I know now and could have viewed them as challenges and opportunities, I think things would have been much easier (for me, and possibly more for Joanna) for years of our marriage.

You have a good handle on the situation, wisdom and insight I did not, a willingness to be molded by God, and friends who love you around. This is a season; even more, if you can see it as a threshold and training for greater things, God's grandeur is open before you.

1:39 PM

Hey Dev,

As usual, Chris & Michael are right on. I just wanted to drop in here and share that what I hear when I read your post is also just some straight-up homesickness--and that's okay. I have never fully shaken it since my arrival in Idaho, but now I also know I would never fully shake some Boise homesick if I were to move back to the mountain, even as much as I terribly, terribly miss my family and friends.

Thanks for sharing honestly, and it's a joy to pray for you both. Love you guys!

3:42 AM

Devin-

I feel your pain, I really do. While we've both had different challenges and adjustments to deal with, there are so many similarities and I've been in that place before. When I first moved to Denver, I had huge doubts. I almost daily questioned what we were doing, why were we there, etc. I dreamt of moving back to California for probably almost two years. I adjusted, and I made some great friends there who I still miss dearly, but I never totally loved it there. When I moved back home, I still had mixed feelings. I wanted to come back to California, to the mountains, but there was also a lot that I lost and gave up as a result. I lost many friends, as a result of the move and the divorce, I lost a lot of my independence and feelings of adulthood. It was good to be back, but also depressing and I felt displaced. It took me probably about a year or so to get over that feeling too. So, I guess what I'm saying is that you're not alone, as much as you may feel that way and as little as me telling you this may help. Be patient in God, as much as you can, and give yourselves time. You are also allowed to miss the life you had there; it doesn't mean that you love your family and friends here any less. Bits of your heart are in both places, and I can definitely relate to that feeling (I feel that my heart is being torn between three different places at present, and it's one of the hardest experiences I've ever dealt with). You guys are in my thoughts and prayers. Love you.

12:30 PM

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