How Do I Love Thee, Minneapolis?

Love, when it comes, is often a surprise. It takes us by storm, fills our hearts and our thoughts to overflowing with the object of our affections. Requited or unrequited makes little difference with regard to the degree of our obsession with The Beloved. All we know is that we love.

Despite all that, I didn’t know this could happen to me. I mean, sure, I liked Philadelphia a lot. I was extremely infatuated with Dublin, and wouldn’t mind seeing her again. But I had never realized just how profound and deep a love could develop so quickly for a city until I moved here.

I’ve pondered how this happened. I mean, I was attracted – obviously – or I wouldn’t have moved here. Perhaps it has been the time and space I’ve enjoyed to explore. Perhaps it has been the joy of discovery by bicycle and on foot – remove the automobile from the equation and you can have a direct and visceral experience of the city, an experience that fills all of your senses to overflowing. Perhaps I was longing for something to fill a void and Minneapolis happened to be here. All I know is that I am in the midst of a passionate affair that has the potential to deepen into a lifelong, abiding love.

Let me, with all due respect to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (who may object from the grave that I am applying her famous lines, written for her husband, to something as seemingly impersonal as a city), count the ways:

 
 
 
How do I love thee, Minneapolis? Let me count the ways:
 
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I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
 
 
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I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
 
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I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
 
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I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
 
 
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I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
 
 
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 I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints.
 
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I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. 
                
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Flashback Friday: Sharing the Love

Today’s flashback is a photo of my brother, Matt, and me at the Dickeyville Grotto. It isn’t an especially extraordinary photo, but there are so many elements in that are important to me.

First, one of the best things about that time of my life (late 80s/early 90s) was the fact that I lived in Iowa City at the same time as my three youngest siblings. We spent a surprising amount of time together – by choice – developing strong relationships as adults. My brother, Matt, in particular encouraged me to explore interests that were beyond the scope of my very mainstream, straight, path. With his girlfriend (and to this day one of my favorite people) Syndy, we visited galleries, attended readings and plays, checked out all kinds of odd and unusual things and places: St. Isaac of Syria Skete, anyone?!

The Dickeyville Grotto has loomed large in my imagination since childhood. This particular trip taught me to think of it as not just the result of a crazed religious fervor, but as outsider art. Matt took tons of photos of the grotto and its varied elements. My Dad took photos of us enjoying the lengthy exploration of the grotto (this was the umpteenth time we had been to the grotto, but we were seeing it with fresh eyes).

It is no accident that I am hiding behind Matt’s shoulder in the photo. Of course, I hoped to hide my bulk, as my weight had been creeping up. But it is also indicative of the fact that Matt boldly walked into life experiences, while I often crept along in his wake. However, I will always be grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and explore so much from and with my youngest sibling.