18 November 2010

List #6: Places I've Been

I am not a widely-traveled woman, nor will I ever likely be. I've always lived within a 150 mile radius of my hometown, and I'll probably die a Minnesotan, ornery and cold. I was just thinking today about how my grandfather moved here from Sweden 90 years ago, when he was 19, and how that move alone marked his life as entirely different from mine.

But I do like to travel, at least in theory, and though I've never been off this continent (except one time when I jumped really high), there have been a few places in my travels that remain close to my heart.

1. New York City: I first went here in college, and we stayed in a relatively abandoned dorm, two vans full of students with the Lutheran Campus Ministries. We went to Harlem and some fantastic church that had a Sunday late afternoon service and rode the subway. We were a bunch of Minnesota kids in awe of this giant city, and it was great. I got to see my first Broadway Show, Miss Saigon, with my sister, and I wore my favorite blue flannel shirt and we sat next to someone in a fur stole. I loved it. Our pastor wore his collar, so everyone thought he was a priest, and he repeatedly said inappropriate things to the young women in our group to see what passersby would do. Much later, I turned 28 in New York, and had a magically good time with Shaun while we visited Dan and Tenessa and Jeni and David and Kelly. I bought flowers in the street and felt very Carrie Bradshaw long before Carrie Bradshaw.

2. Washington DC: another Lutheran Campus Ministries spring break trip, we drove through Pennsylvania in an enormous ice storm that had semis jackknifing around us and the ice built up so thick on our wiper blades I had to reach out the window and snap it off. Jess was with on this trip, too, and during the worst of the storm we ended up in different vans, and I started hyperventilating, getting all Buddy Holly/Ritchie Valens over the situation. We visited Gettysburg, created our own mixed drink (named the Minnesota Monument, after the Minnesota Infantry who suffered 82% casualties but still held the line), and saw the great opulence and poverty that is our nation's capital. On this trip, we slept on thin, hard mattresses in a church basement, and ate peanut butter sandwiches and a small green apple for lunch everyday. It was a good way to see the city.

3. New Orleans, Louisiana: I've been to N'awlins twice, both times with my college jazz band, the second time with my kid sister. I totally fell in love with this city, so different from anywhere else on earth, with its own culture and history and stifling humidity. Getting to play jazz in this city will remain one of the greatest honors of my life. We saw the Mississippi Delta, mansions and shotgun houses and razor wire and big dogs that threw themselves at the courtyard gates as we walked by. It drips of decadence and history and it's very, very sexy. It is one of the places I most want to go back to.

After the 9/11 attacks and Katrina, I was starting to feel a little like the cosmos was trying to wipe every major city Jess and I had visited off the map. Which was kind of freaky. She assured me this was not the case. Probably.

4. Las Vegas: faithful readers, you know how I feel about Sin City: I've been three times, and each time got its own blog post or two. And I understand the artifice, and the wastefulness, and the ridiculousness of it all. There are those who love Vegas, and those who can't stand it, and not a lot of inbetween types. By god, I'm glad to be in the lovin' it camp. There is nothing better than being in Vegas with a little money in your pocket, people you like to be with, and a good lipgloss. Nothing better on earth.

There have been other cities, of course: Minneapolis & St. Paul, Winnipeg, Chicago, Estes Park, Colorado...but those first four above were momentous trips, trips I'll be talking about as an old woman, trips that make me want to pack up the Scion and drive. Maybe I'll send you a postcard, sometime.

Where have your favorite places been?

(Oh, and don't forget, there's still time for you to enter the FABULOUS 400th POST giveaway. Comment on that post, not this one. You know you want to. You could WIN!)


Charlotte said...

You have visited cities that I've never been to. And all of them are on our list: New York, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago. Maybe when the kids are older, we'll go traveling someplace besides the in-laws (not that I'm complaining, just so we're clear).

Jess said...

Not to be critical or snotty but the snow storm was the New York trip. Remember, we found each other again in East Orange, New Jersey. DC was uneventful as far as I can remember. Just sayin'.

Jennifer said...

I love it when my sister starts a sentence with "not to be critical or snotty," because that's so often EXACTLY WHAT SHE IS. But okay, I believe you.

Tom said...

I can't really comment on New York or New Orleans (I haven't been to either), but I did enjoy Washington DC. And, I have to admit, I am in the "can't stand it" group regarding Las Vegas. I went there with "the guys," and I had a good time, but that was due to the people I was with, not the city. I even have relatives there...but I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon.

Now...Lincoln, Nebraska...there's a place you should visit (unless you don't like corn, cows or football...then never mind).