Editor’s Note: Conducting a Socially Distant Interview With Gov. Walz

Our 20-foot-apart, masked-up discussion was an awkward sign of the times

Lifestyle magazines thrive on consistency. We hope that businesses stay open, that rock formations sticking out of Lake Superior stay put, that trends don’t take vicious right turns, and that interviews still ring true months after the words were originally stated. It never completely works out that way, but the paradigm shifts of 2020 really kept things—as a Minnesotan often says—interesting.

Take my in-person interview with Gov. Tim Walz at the State Capitol. Instead of meeting in his office, I was ushered into a large room—bedecked with carved wood paneling, chandeliers, and oil paintings depicting battlefield scenes—and two chairs approximately 20 feet apart. For 45 minutes, we sat in our seats and bellowed from behind our face masks about Minnesota’s complicated current state of affairs. Technically, we were together, but the setup felt like there might as well have been a giant crack in the earth between us, not just an ornate rug. I’ve grown accustomed to these makeshift ways of grasping at previous normality, though. Had we met up in April, it would have felt far more foreign. As we wrapped up the spirited discussion, we exchanged goodbyes, and the governor added, “Sorry about the awkward social distance.” He clearly noticed it, too.

We all thrive on a certain level of consistency. (Think about how minuscule things like losing a Wi-Fi connection can irk you, and then scale way up to your health, family, home, work, etc.) Depending on our life situations, many Minnesotans have had to move away from regular programming to extents that could prove permanent. As Minnesota Monthly has done a fair share of pivoting, it has been frustrating at times, but also overwhelmingly refreshing to see the byproducts of rethinking what we do and how we do it. We’ve spent much time this year acknowledging that “Yes, this feels different to us, too.”

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