Journeys: Like Siberia

The Polar Vortex revealed the grit of Minnesotans


PHOTO BY THOM HOLMES ON UNSPLASH

The Polar Vortex greeted me as I drove from northeast Indiana to Minneapolis. Slushy snow flung onto my windshield throughout my 12-hour trip as my 16-year-old Civic struggled to defrost. I can relate to my car. I handle the snow, but I can’t keep up with the locals. Y’all are crazy.

I felt tough trudging through the snow my first week. When I got into work, I’d say, “That wasn’t so bad.” Then I fell down the icy exterior stairwell and began my descent into hating the cold.
I observe the locals, how they gracefully tap snow off boots as they climb onto the bus. When I attempted it, I bruised my ankle. Maybe I shouldn’t try to fit in.

Downtown Minneapolis is a whole new world. Somehow the city orchestrates sidewalk sweepers, plows, and trucks to remove the snow. I called my mom to tell her about the dump trucks of snow. I wonder where they take it.

The skyway was a foreign concept to me. Bless the skyway. I get lost and wander with my eyes fixated on the map on my phone. It amazes me that I can shop, fill my prescriptions, and workout through a maze of hallways. Without the skyway, I wouldn’t survive.

I live in an Airbnb in the northeast, and I’m amazed at my neighbors. They shovel snow expediently, and somehow their roofs are intact after pounds of snow sit atop them. The maintenance overwhelms me.

I tried to shovel snow away from my car, but I only had an ice scraper. Shin-deep in snow, I crouched and scraped around the tires. I inched out of the snowy driveway. I ended up stuck, my fabric coat soaked. Neighbors came to help, bringing a shovel and pushing my car to safety. It was a huge favor to me, but they were relaxed. No biggie.

Minnesotans are a different breed, highly adapted to extreme winters. The Polar Vortex did coax a few struggles out of the locals. The usually silent crowd waiting for the bus got a bit chatty. Packed into a Nordstrom Rack vestibule, we talked about the weather. Everyone was struggling, making me feel a part of a community in a foreign city.

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