Our decision to move from Portland, Oregon to Minneapolis, Minnesota—a move that my mother, who lives in San Diego, coined: reverse pioneering—has been, for some, an indication that we had finally gone nuts.
Many of our friends and family were baffled that we would leave Portland, especially the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest is a part of us—it is in our hair and bones. And leaving Portland, of all places. Who would leave such an enchanting city?
It also didn’t help that our decision to move to Minneapolis came on the heels of one of the worst winters in Midwest history. As the Polar Vortex descended on the midwest, the world watched in horror as temperatures fell as low as -58F (Duluth), where they lingered painfully as Old-Testament blizzards repeatedly pummeled the region into humility, killing twenty-two people, depressing legions, and raking perfect frozen hell across a quarter of the United States.
Apart from regional differences, our house was a good home, located in a desirable, close-in neighborhood. To boot, we had spent years remodeling the house with painstaking detail—carpentry, plumbing, electrical—roof to basement. The works.
Most importantly, we were departing many beloved friends—friends who are more the family you choose, kind of friends.
One friend replied to the news with, “Minneapolis?” This was delivered with a question mark and a conspicuous tone of panic that suggested Minneapolis was a city infamous for some predictable annual tragedy—frequent outbreaks of zombies maybe. Moving to such a place raised many urgent questions.
In my case, however, some former acquaintances might have heard of my departure with some relief. (While Portland is a large city, it feels like a tiny town. The city’s compact design has a tendency to inspire a greater frequency of happenstance run-ins, which also makes Portland a lousy place to collect nemeses, which I seem to accomplish with frustrating ease.)
When people asked us why we were moving, I would often offer a glib boilerplate response: Jaclyn’s gambling debt had finally caught up to her and we were moving our family to greener casinos. This was maybe an annoying deflection, but really, I just didn’t feel like getting into it. Any answers we could have provided would only beget another question and another question after that.
It seemed counterproductive to go down the rabbit hole about real estate, or school districts, or cost of living, or the job market, or traffic, or the astonishing number of Portland assholes who wear thick wool beanies in 100 degree weather. Our decision to move was not the result of one big reason but rather, years of weighing a thousand little reasons—we needed a change, and we’ll leave it at that.
The timing, I will admit, was unfortunate. There is much we don’t broadcast about our family’s goings on, even talking about us here is pushing it (which might sound contrary coming from someone who writes non-fiction). We are not inclined to gab about big plans until they are solid and hopelessly irreversible. So we didn’t formally announced our move until only two months before actually hitting the road, perhaps creating the perception of a rushed timeline. And a rushed timeline implies trouble—especially considering everything that needed tying up before we left, including packing up and selling our house—our friends and family could not be blamed for suspecting that we were on the run from the mafia, perhaps, or wolves.
We now live in a small apartment, just off Loring Park, in downtown Minneapolis. We’ve only been here a month, but so far, the city agrees with us. We live much closer to Jaclyn’s family now, which is good. As an afterthought, it is noteworthy that previously our scant vacation time was split into thirds—two parts for each family, and one part alone time and living in close proximity to one of the families frees up a whole third of our bank of vacation for us-time.
Another added bonus: visiting my parents in San Diego, which I enjoy (except for the San Diego part), I may discover a newfound appreciation for their city as Southwestern California would offer a welcome respite from the desolate, frozen wasteland of Minnesota.
Winter. There it is again: the Midwest's annual 8-month tragedy. Though we are of hearty stock, and not easily intimidated by long, dreary winters, I reserve the right to complain about the weather. (We are from Portland after all, and Portlanders are professional weather complainers.) But we are Midwesterners now, so when people ask if we like our new home I will say “Oh, you know…” which is true, but also, to check in with us next spring, after we’ve lived through a zombie outbreak.