Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A vacation in Minnesota

I had the chance to go back to Minnesota for my brother's wedding (after signing a contract that I would be a well-prepared and excellent teacher in Korea when I returned) and I enjoyed it quite a bit. My parents recently moved from Lindstrom to downtown St Paul. When I went home last year, I felt kind of like this:
This year was a little more like this:
I figured it would be a blast to be downtown (my parents were probably a twenty minute walk to central St Paul) and I would have things to do every night. It turns out that I've gotten too accustomed to the 24/7 lifestyle of Seoul. Yes, St Paul is beautiful and has some gorgeous streets with equally impressive Victorian houses. There are coffee shops, ethnic neighborhoods, bars and clubs, and a vibrant queer scene. Seriously, look at some of these houses.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's House

It was also nice to be surrounded with so much liberal-minded people. When I was in St Paul, Question 1 was being debated all over the place. A vote yes meant limiting marriage to only straight couples. St Paul was peppered with orange 'Vote No' signs. I felt quite welcome. 

The nature is beautiful, with a great network for biking. My mother and I spent one afternoon biking from St Paul to Minneapolis and back, and, unlike biking in Seoul, their were bike lanes the whole way. Plus, a lot of natural and man-made beauty. 

The might Mississippi

Midtown in Minneapolis
Of course, the best part about St Paul is seeing my family. I met Sarah's new adorable baby, Greta, hung out with Miles, teased Anna, saw David and Shela's wedding, ate at Ben's restaurant, danced with Katie, spent time with the rents and partied with the cousins. What's not to like?
First walk around the new house with Mom and Sarah

Mom looking so beautiful with her ill-fitting helmet
The wedding party and family

Oh, and Halloween happened as well 
So, yes, I enjoyed myself a lot. St Paul seems like a wonderful place for my parents and Sarah to live. But it wasn't for me. The first night, I wanted to go out for a coffee. It was around 10 pm. The only thing left open at this time were bars. When I did go out to the bars, they would close at 2. Huh? That's when things start getting really fun! And where were all the people? I love walking, but walking around St Paul does not expose you to much humanity. Everyone seemed to be inside their lovely houses. I love a city that never sleeps, a city that you have to fight to get your way around because the streets are chock-full of people, a city that has restaurants and cafes on EVERY single street. I love a city that is so large you feel like you are always discovering a new neighborhood, and you don't need to rely on a car for getting from point A to point B. I love a cityscape that is dotted with mountains in case you need a rest from the dynamic center. I love Seoul. And as sad as this sounds, I didn't feel like I was going home on October 25th. No, visiting St Paul was a vacation. I came home on Tuesday when I landed in Incheon, took a bus to Itaewon, and walked to HBC. It probably won't be my home forever, but it definitely is for the time being. 

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