24. See My City Like a Tourist

I am a proud lifelong resident of the 612. South Minneapolis to be exact. I have always been passionate about Minnesota (I cry at the State of Hockey song played at MN Wild games), and am particularly passionate about the area of Minneapolis that I have called home for 32 years. To be fair, I spent college sporting a 507 area code (Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN), but always knew that I would return to my beloved home near the chain of lakes. Deep in my heart, I have always loved this area, but you grow used to your surroundings and sadly become blind to them... until the opportunity to introduce your haunts to people who are experiencing them with new eyes presents itself.

One of my very dearest friends is not from Minnesota. In fact, we have never lived in the same state. We have never even lived in the same area of the country. Helen is from New Jersey, went to college in Washington, D.C., and has landed in the suburbs of Boston. She has made only a couple of trips to Minnesota in her life, once for my bachelorette party, and once for my wedding. She was a bridesmaid. That was over 7 years ago. The last time I saw Helen was at her bachelorette party in Las Vegas. I was not able to make it to her wedding because I was weeks from delivering my first child (apparently the airlines discourage air travel at that stage of the game). So that was the last time I had seen her, I hadn't even met her husband! Despite the geographic distance, Helen is one of my most treasured friends. Perhaps because we have remained so close having never spent more than a week in each other's physical presence. We are kindred spirits, and have offered incomparable support to each other across the miles in some dark times.

Helen and her husband Mike were planning a trip, and the stars aligned such that they made Minnesota their vacation destination. Keeping in mind that Mike, a native Bostonian, had never been to Minnesota (he'd barely set foot in the midwest), Matt and I were determined to show them a good time, Minneapolis style. Thankfully we had time to prepare, because we really needed some time to get into tourist mode.

Asking ourselves the question, "what is most beautiful about the place where we live?" and "what are we most proud of?" Matt and I engaged in a powerful brainstorm. We began to fret that the 36 hours of time we had to spend with Helen and Mike would not be nearly enough for them to experience the beauty of this place we call home. Letting that fear go, we prioritized the list.

In the interest of full disclosure, I began to share the list here, but deleted it for a very specific reason, our list was OUR list. Rather than give you, the reader, OUR list, I want to encourage you to make your own list of things you would show someone who had never seen the beauty of your surroundings. Whether or not you actually have a visitor coming, I encourage you to take your own tour considering the following:

Where do you LOVE to go? Where do you find yourself so engrossed with the culture and surroundings that you actually lose track of time? Who of your friends would you introduce your out of town friends to? Who helps create your experience of "home"? If your were seeing your city with fresh eyes, what would you find particularly beautiful, unique or exciting?

I have a new pride in my home. Not just the city I live in, but the home I live in. We have a beautiful view from the window of our house of Lake Nokomis. We are so used to this view that perhaps it has become like a piece of art that you adore, but begin to ignore. It is in seeing it through the eyes of our friends, that we gained a new appreciation and gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us each day. We are fortunate to live in the midst of this beauty, and I intend to remind myself to see this beauty with fresh eyes more often than not.

I have been changed by this experience in many ways. The past few years, I have become more thoughtful about the choices that I make in my life. The places I spend my time, the kind of food I eat, the people I surround myself with, and showing it to my friends has become an affirmation of those choices. Helen and Mike enjoyed themselves enough that they are already talking about their return trip. Matt and I are anxious to visit them in their hometown to give them the same experience that we had, the experience of pride and beauty in their surroundings, and the opportunity to see what is commonplace through fresh eyes.

The weekend was not only a celebration of our city, but a celebration of a friendship that has spanned the miles over years (almost 14 to be exact). When counting blessings on this particular weekend, I almost ran out of numbers. What a wonderful problem to have!


  1. If you really showed them the highlights, I know exactly where you took them. So, how was the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota?

  2. they had a pig bring the umpire baseballs! I mean that's CRAZY!

  3. I love that you love MN! And what a gift to be able to share it with your dear friends...and through the eyes of a tourist. It's way too easy to get comfortable in our own surroundings, isn't it? Bill and I always have a "touristy" list on-hand for winter and summer activities to make sure that things here stay fresh for us. And we have a blast visiting the haunts and places that the magazines in the hotel rooms tell visitors that they MUST see!

  4. Colleen, you did NOT show us a ball of twine!

  5. Shouting out from the 952! I love the 612!

  6. Okay, a bit disappointed that you didn't share your list. :)

  7. My husband and I chose to move to Minneapolis from NY because there is so much to do here. Out of all the places we researched it was the best fit and we do not regret our decision at all. This city has so much to offer.
    By the way I heard you on the radio and thank you for the fruit fly tip. We've got a lovely bowl of red wine covered with saran wrap and it saved my sanity this weekend!


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