I know the homes and the communities I have lived in have profoundly impacted the person I am today. So, it has not been easy to think about moving to a new home. But now it looks like its really going to happen; the underwriting gods have been appeased and the new bathroom in our old house is almost done. Inspections are complete at 1714 and we are ready to begin some pre-move-in work at 4437. Yes friends, Janeen and I are preparing to move a whopping 3 miles from where we have lived for the last 27 summers.
Let me explain to all of you who are saying… “YOU are moving?” I never would have agreed to house hunting and selling 1714 if it wasn’t for the collision of two forces of love;
- My wife has been trying to get me to agree to downsize (and we need to) and she wants a home with the bedrooms on the main floor. (some days stairs really bother her foot)
- My son Jared and his wife want to move into our neighborhood AND they want to buy the house he grew up in.
We began looking last June, Janeen and I wanted to find a house in Willard-Hay ( the neighborhood just west of where we are in Minneapolis) We needed a bedroom on the first floor and room for kids, in-laws and grandkids to visit. Additionally, we wanted to lower our monthly mortgage. As time went on we expanded our search to Harrison, Cleveland and even to the Victory neighborhoods. While a few homes got away from us, even fewer fit the bill for what we needed.
Last month we looked at a house that was out of the zone by about 3 blocks… into Robbinsdale. Jared and Angela were planning to close by the end of October and we needed to find something. It was a nice place. On our way home Janeen told me that it she liked that house “…MORE than any other house we had seen” .. then our realtor told us that there was a offer being made and if we were interested we needed to make an offer ASAP.
We made an offer, 5K under their price and asking them to pay the closing costs. I really didn’t think they would accept, while Janeen was praying they would.
Two days later our realtor called us, Janeen and I were together in the kitchen at 1714 when we heard that they had accepted our offer, Janeen was speechless, I was faux-excited as I spoke to the realtor, but as soon as I hung up the phone the gut-leveling emotions hit:
- I was leaving the place I had called home for the past 27 summers.
- I was leaving a house I have worked on from top to bottom
- We were leaving the home where we watched all 3 of our kids grow from babies to adults
- I was leaving the neighborhood I have loved and the ‘hood that has loved me back.
- I was leaving the city that has been part of my identity and the center of my geography.
I could hardly work on anything that day. I cried, no I sobbed like a baby. I was confused and felt disoriented. I felt great loss, yet at times I felt great shame that I grieved so deeply over a privilege (a stable home and community for a quarter century) that so few ever experience.
Now 6 weeks later I’ve adapted. I can talk about it without crying (sometimes) my business partner, an immigrant who has known many homes and many separations has been source of comfort and encouragement. He laughs as he comments about my sentimentality. My kids know how sentimental their dad is, yet they share the excitement of a new chapter beginning in all of our lives. AND… I’m getting there.
In the process of sharing with friends about our move there are some who respond as if WHERE one lives has no determination of WHO one is. While I appreciate the sentiment, and their desire to comfort me as I grieve leaving the Near North Neighborhood of Minneapolis. There is one thing I have to say:
PLACE DOES MATTER.
From my birth and for the next 20 years living on a farm in Northeast Iowa deeply influenced how I view family and the land one inhabits. It influenced my beliefs about work and community and continues to inform my beliefs and those of my children.
When we first moved to North Minneapolis in 1989 I had no idea the extent to which living in this neighborhood would shape me (and my family). While I could write a whole book about the impact (and I kind of have), we have been blessed and informed, welcomed and stretched; YES, we are better because of the blessings and challenges that come with living in a place like North Minneapolis.
While our society encourages us to escape to places that purport to offer safety and security, I believe there is something very important about living in proximity with the challenges and “dysfunctions” of our society:
- As a white man, I know one can study the effects of racism in an academic setting but never understand the human impact until you observe your neighbors and friends struggling with those effects.
- It is possible to be able to explain the economic theories of poverty and class in America, but not have compassion for the poor until you share space and build community.
- You could read books and go on trips to learn about migrants and other cultures but never share their joy and pain until you live together as neighbors.
- You can think you are a good person, until you see your goodness in the shadow of truly great people who have done much more, even though they began with “much less.”
Thank you North Minneapolis – our neighbors; students in schools, kids in the park, employees at gas stations and grocery stores, people we have served with on neighborhood committees and groups. Your honesty and love have shaped us forever – we aren’t going too far away and we will be back!
As we move 3 blocks into Robbinsdale the lessons and experiences of Minneapolis will go with us. I’m not sure what lessons and experiences will shape us in our new home and neighborhood but I am confident if we commit to being neighbors we will find our place in beloved community wherever we go.