photo courtesy of Trails and Walks RI
An anchor keeps you settled, safe from the wild tides of the ocean all around you. It’s a comfort. It stops you from being taken off course. An anchor is also something that holds you back, prevents you from being able to move past the length of its chain. The symbol of Rhode Island represented both of these things. Despite forever being my home, it was a place I truly needed to leave, to grow outside of its shores, before I could consider settling in.
Last month saw me pack all that I own into my car and drive nearly 1,400 miles across the country. All my favorite books and graphic novels, once proudly displayed on shelves, were crammed unceremoniously into boxes. The front seats were sealed off, essentially becoming my own personal cockpit of maps and snacks and empty coffee cups. I came with the intent of attending grad school, but really that was just an added bonus. The reality was I came to experience the Twin Cities.
The first day saw me walking down and taking in University Avenue. Each footstep revealed a slight imperfection in the cement, a crack here, a chip in the edging, recent, with the ground pieces of concrete still scattered on the road. These are the details that give something a personality. I was getting to know my new home, step-by-step, learning the flow of its lifeblood, the rhythmic beat of its heart. Places such as On’s Kitchen stood out, giving a warm, somehow familiar feel. Inside, the sound of plates and half-shouted orders act as a siren’s call, luring me towards what would turn out to be a great meal. The classic diner look and aesthetic of Grandview Grill complimented the friendly demeanor of the wait staff, offering me great breakfast and conversation on a morning when I longed for home.
Walking was adapted into my daily routine, a part of living and working in a larger city where, before, I was used to driving everywhere I needed to go. My car takes a backseat now (pun partially intended) in favor of a more personal approach to travel. By walking, utilizing the light rail, I’ve become a part of the community. I used to feel at peace in my car, isolated in this space that was mine. Now my week doesn’t start until I’ve sat beside a stranger on a train, the two of us witnessing the passage of dozens of stories and conversations that come and go with each stop. It doesn’t start until I’ve passed the line of food trucks, exchanging friendly nods with a few as the tantalizing aroma of their offered specialties melded together at the corner of Sixth and South Second. It doesn’t start until I’ve shook hands with the older man sitting outside of his apartment, a block down from mine, hearing a quick anecdote before trading one of my own with a promise to do so again the next day.
And the week doesn’t end until I’m sitting on my couch, a Summit IPA in hand, and an episode of How I Met Your Mother playing on my television. I’m still me, after all. Just with a bit of the Twin Cities filling in the blanks.