In super Lasik-style 20/20 hindsight, I’m not sure I’d recommend having a baby, deciding to move, shipping life cross-country and living like suitcase gypsies for a month all in the course of a single season (winter)—but then again, ripping off bandaids is my style.
Flashback to December: I’m living in Atlanta, Georgia, my adopted home for nearly five years. Approximately 30 million weeks pregnant with baby number one. Planning my maternity leave from my full-time job, on daycare waiting lists up the wazoo, watching “How to Use Your Breastpump” videos on the Medela site as my eyes bugged and the color drained from my face.
Maybe it was the sleep deprivation from my nighttime bathroom escapades, but my husband and I had this crazy idea—maybe we should move to Minnesota. Like, soon. We’d toyed with the idea before—I grew up “up north” and lived, worked and grad-schooled in Minneapolis after college. Family (read: grandparents) would be an afternoon’s drive instead of multiple flights away. My husband had never lived in the state—or even visited until I busted into his life—but has fun family roots here (including his VIP great uncle of the famed Lunch with Casey Jones show). We were both ready for career changes. And despite Atlanta being a great city for young professionals, we knew it wasn’t the place we wanted to spend the heart of familydom.
Then all of a sudden we had a baby, and soon after that, a plan, a lot of moving boxes…and a lot of questions. Most popular was along the lines of “Why would you voluntarily inflict upon yourself the torture that is moving with a newborn?!?!?!” (touché), followed closely by “Why Minnesota?”
We came for the:
- Playgrounds, for family members big and small. We’re crazy-active, can’t-sit-still people with and without our little one in tow, so one of our top criteria for a new city was the go-go-go-ability—by foot and wheels and picnic blanket and twisty slide. When the two cities we straddle tie for the best parks in the country, we know we’re home. The number of waterfront miles we’ve cruised since we moved in April is mindblowing, awesome and rivaled only by the number of minutes we’ve spent sitting by a lake scarfing treats from A Baker’s Wife (or the number of calories consumed during said activity).
- Sidewalks. Seriously. They’re everywhere! I didn’t realize until I lived outside of the area that I took for granted having a safe, easy place to walk for transportation and recreation. We wanted to step out our front door to a bang-up place to stroll, run and, eventually, watch a certain little critter wobble around on a tiny bike.
- Transportation. I know, I know, anything’s better than the traffic nightmare that is Atlanta. But we’re happy to be in a place where so many activities are (a seven-minute walk to) a light rail ride away—especially with the addition of the green line since I last lived here. And living in arguably the best biking city in the U.S. (and one of the best in the world) gives us tons of active options for getting to where we work and play.
- Weather. Really! Kind of. At least right now. Granted my husband’s “winter coat” is a thick hoodie and we’ll probably be buying out the men’s, women’s and kid’s sections of The North Face store come fall. But for now, we fully stand by our strategic decision to move in the spring/soak up the summer and our premature excitement over learning to snowshoe and cross-country ski and seek out the best sledding hills. And I’m not saying I took into consideration the adorableness of kids puffed up in snowsuits when making a huge life decision. But I’m not saying I didn’t.
- Minnesota Nice. It’s real. And it’s here. And it’s fabulous. They talk about southern hospitality, but I don’t think it compares to warmth only people forced to endure months of sub-arctic temperatures, blizzards, ice storms, snow emergencies and going to and from work in the dark can produce. (Have I mentioned we need winter clothes?)
Kate Awsumb reports to—in this order—her tiny boss-lady (born December 2014), jumbo Boston terrier and communications consulting clients. Her bad-joke-telling husband reports to her. You’ll often spot Team Awsumb out and about in their Longfellow, Minneapolis neighborhood and anywhere than can be hiked, biked or run.
Photo credit for B&W photo: Shuttersmack.