It’s hard for anyone to find a place in the world; a place where you feel comfortable enough to build a home and live out your life. On Saturday morning I arrived in Duluth, MN to meet my brother and his family for a weekend of camping. Every time I visit Duluth I feel at home and every time I visit it gets harder and harder for me to leave.
Eleven years ago I started my freshmen year of college at The University of Minnesota-Duluth. I packed up two large suitcases full of everything I owned in the world and my mother helped me move into my apartment; the first place I lived outside of my parents’ home. Duluth now holds a feeling of independence for me, the place where I started my ultimate adventure.
My first night on my own I delved into Duluth’s underbelly and I woke up the following morning feeling as though I had spent the evening shoved inside a washing machine set on the spin cycle; needless to say I was very weary and felt somewhat apprehensive about my new home. But I forged on and made friends with the city and all of the delights it had to offer.
Two years later I moved away from Duluth. It was a hard decision for me to make but at the time it was the right one and I have experienced so much between then and now that I could never regret that decision. Lately I have been feeling too complacent in my personal life and I no longer feel challenged at work. I am starting to crave a new adventure and I have been contemplating the idea of starting a fresh life in Duluth. All of my college friends have moved away and I no longer have any family living there; which is the major reason I have not made the decision to uproot myself.
Since I’ve moved away the city has revitalized itself with a fresh batch of trendy restaurants and a handful of micro-breweries. It is the ultimate city for anyone artistic or outdoorsy. It can offer biking, gardening, kayaking, paddle-boarding, art, music festivals, skiing, snowboarding, bird watching, fly fishing, hiking, sailing, geo-caching and so much more. If you need to feel inspired, if you eat, drink or breathe air it is one of the greatest places in the country to do that; there is so much to experience in Duluth. The shopping is versatile with everyday conveniences like Walgreens and Target to eclectic boutiques and hole in the wall sport shops. Duluth can be an inexpensive city both to visit and live in with so many parks to explore, beaches to comb and people to watch.
The people who flock toward Duluth are hardworking small town types that are warm-hearted and welcoming. Or it may be the air that blows in off of Lake Superior, so fresh and crisp that it feels cleaner and more breathable in your lungs giving you a feeling of lightness and revitalization; making everyone so laid back. It is a big city with no skyscrapers or traffic jams. Rarely do people honk their horns and emergency sirens are far and few between. The only noise to clutter the stillness is the blare of the fog horn or approaching ships in the canal.
The views are so stunning they are enough to make you want to cry. As I drove down Central Entrance toward the lake the view literally took my breath away. The sky was gray and the lake so vast that I could not differentiate where the lake ended and the sky began. No distinguishable horizon made it look like I had reached the end of the world, as though all roads led there.
Park Point is one of my favorite spots in Duluth. Sandy beaches stretch for miles until they meet the lighthouses on both ends. The waters of Lake Superior crash onto the shore sending screeches into the air from startled children. Young men throw a soggy football from one sunburned body to the next. Tourists rake the beach for shells, rocks, agets and driftwood; looking for the right piece to tell an interesting story. Young women bake in the sun too afraid to enter the water, fearful that their tans will get washed away.
Then there are dreamers like me who sit with their noses in their notebooks writing about the scene instead of living it, so afraid that they might live the wrong way that they forget to live at all. As I sit here I’m watching a piece of driftwood being pulled out into the open waters and pushed back to shore. A constant struggle between what it wants and what nature thinks it needs. My question is, what will the driftwood choose?