After six months of travel and adventure, we’ve found a home in Northeast Minneapolis. We are settling into the groove of “normal” again. I have found my dog walking routes, my favorite spots for a coffee, a taco and a beer. I am slowly picking through the many pages of my manuscript, editing and revising and preparing for next semester. And yet I find myself feeling adrift–happy to be settled, warm and content in my new surroundings, but without direction. After months of journey, maps and plans, I am suddenly without itinerary. I have not yet found my way.
This midwestern city oozes old stories. The generations of immigrants and blue collar workers have left their mark and it has seeped into the fabric of the Twin Cities, but this neighborhood in particular. It is not unlike St. Louis or Chicago or Detroit in that way. Western cities don’t have the same feel, their heritage is different and the culture of those cities reflects the differences in the way they grew. Being back in the midwest has shone a bright light on those differences (among others). This feeling, one I struggle to put my finger on, feels like home to me.
I often sit in our studio and listen alternately to the thunderous clank of all the many trains that creep through on the web of railways along the river and the clang of the bells from the plethora of churches. There is a church on just about every corner here, mostly Catholic or Orthodox, most offering services in a variety of languages: French, Spanish, Polish, Ukrainian. The heritage of these immigrants, their work and their faith is strong. I can feel their presence, I am listening hard for their voices.
To ground myself in the practice of writing, I began to jot down these little short stories, character sketches, vignettes–flash fiction, on a good day. Many of these are inspired by folks I’ve stumbled upon in our travels over the last few years, but just as many were instigated by something that caught my eye nearby. I am trying to channel those voices I’ve heard over the years as well as those I glimpse daily, to put them on paper.
When I was young and had lost something, my mom predictably advised: “pray to St. Anthony.” The patron saint of lost things. I am not religious, but as I search for my writing rhythm, my brain and heart space, the next step on my journey, I continue to scribble down these little stories. The practice feels like an homage to St. Anthony.
So here, in an attempt to both hold myself accountable to a daily practice and to deepen my powers of observation, I offer up these little short stories, one a day for as long as I can sustain the practice. You’ll find them in the blog, tagged St. Anthony’s Stories. Enjoy.