I wrote this for Thanksgiving ten years ago.
Which reminds me; I’m thankful that I’ve had this blog for ten years (not to mention my show for almost nine).
And, of course, each and every one of you in the audience.
I moved from North Dakota to Minneapolis in October of 1985. It was a spur of the moment thing – in fact, it started with a drunken statement to a bunch of classmates at a college homecoming party two weeks earlier. It was five months after graduation, and they’d all come back to Jamestown (my hometown and college) with stories of their fun careers, fun cities, fun lives…
I was doing roofing and siding, wondering what the hell one did with an English degree. But after five or six gin and tonics, I found myself dancing with Monica Costello, and telling her “Yeah – I’m still here in Jamestown”. Really, she asked? “Yeah, but I’m moving”. Where, she asked. I thought about it for a second. “Minneapolis” seemed to be a place I could afford to get to. When, she asked. “Two weeks”, I blurted out without really thinking.
Damned if everyone didn’t remember that promise when we all sobered up. So – two weeks later, I loaded two duffel bags and a guitar into my ’73 Malibu, and I was off.
Six weeks later, it was Thanksgiving. I still had no job, I was broke and malnourished and cold. I’d had a few interviews, but no bites. I had dinner at a friend’s place. And on the way home, I drove downtown, and walked out onto the Central Avenue bridge, and looked out over the city in the dark. If you’ve never seen it, looking at downtown Minneapolis in the dark, when everything’s all lit up, is stunning; for someone just in off the prairie, it was like looking at Manhattan I was cold, and scared out of my shorts about my short-term prospects – and for the first time, I felt strangely at home in this new city.
And every since then, Thanksgiving has seemed like the turning of the new year for me – the time when I reflect on the past year’s agonies and flubs and successes, and look forward to the next year. Much more so – for me anyway – than New Years’ Eve, which is more decompression from Christmas than anything.
I remember each Thanksgiving in the last 17 years – the giddiness of feeling like I was on the edge of something big in 1986, confident in my ability to pull it all together in ’87, shell-shocked and depressed and contemplating the implosion of my radio career in ’88, crazy in love in ’89, a harried but happy but broke newlywed in ’90, a new dad digging out of deep snowdrifts in ’91, broke and on the brink of eviction with two kids and another on the way in ’92, in a new house in ’93…wondering how long my marriage would last in ’98, being able to answer the question “not long at all” in ’99…
…and today. I sat for a while by the Cathedral of St. Paul, looking down Summit over downtown Saint Paul. The giddy, heady uncertainty of the thanksgivings of my first years as an adult, the throat-clutching terror of my divorce-era holidays, and the weary relief of my first thanksgivings as a divorced dad…well, little bits of all of them are still there. But there’s the emerging sense that my life really is mine, and that I’d better get on with it.
There’ve been so many good lists of things to be thankful for, from people as diverse as Michelle Malkin and Ted Nugent and Andrew Sullivan – and my own for that matter.
But I forgot one. I’m thankful to be here. Now. Doing what I’m doing, and with the chance to be doing the same thing – or better – next year.
God bless you all. And if you don’t believe in God – well, bless yourself silly.
At some point this evening I’ll probably stop out on the Central Avenue bridge again.
Anyway – Happy Thankgiving, everyone!