Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reminiscing in Minnesota

I spent August 1st through August 6th in Minnesota, mostly in the Twin Cities. Much time was spent with my brother, with Mike, with Clayton, and I loved that. Time was also spent with Mike's wife Hilary, my cousin Rebecca and her husband Scott, my brother's girlfriend Christina Saa-deh!, Justin and his wife in Duluth, T-Duck and his lover, Orvis and Chipotle, Clayton's wife and awesome child, Cody and his wife, Nicki Luehrs, and my family in Fridley: Fred, Lynne, Ali, and Nick. All of it was sweet, and I knew that all of it would be sweet before it even happened.

Should I glaze and say that it was nice to see everyone and that I was happy to be in the Twin Cities again for a little while and that it seemed like everyone was doing quite well, with their jobs and their houses and their spouses and their babies?

Or should I be honest and say that my time in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area made me want to return to Minnesota, settle down with some like-minded Midwestern honey, get some cool place in one of the hundreds of cool neighborhoods in the Twin Cities, start a family, invest in a church, reinvest in so many friendships, spend more time with extended family, go to Twins games and to Emily's Lebanese just be there?

Of course, then I went back to Beijing, China, on August 6, and here I am now, and I am happy. But I am not forgetting. Not forgetting at all.

Thanks, America, for a super solid summer. We'll meet again.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Kickin' It at the Cabin

After the Omaha-Fergus Falls circuit was complete, a trip to hallowed Spirit Lake was in order. I went there on a rainy Thursday with my dad. We were soon joined by Christina and Rune. And soon after that joined by my mom and Michael Friday night. Then, all things were complete.

There is perhaps no location so swathed in tradition as my grandparents' cabin on the northern shore of Spirit Lake. The routine of the cabin is well-known: get up late and when you want, don't shower if you can help it, be quiet until everyone has stirred, hang around, read, go look at the water from the end of the dock, read more, throw some rocks in the water. Be still and know. Sit at the end of the dock in the afternoon, taking in sun and either napping or catching up with whomever else is out there. After a while there is chance you will get really hot and get in the water. There is also a chance you will not.

Those are the foundational elements of a day at the cabin. But on the one complete day that we were all there - the entire nuclear Haggar family - we packed in all the other staple traditions as well:

1) A family photo shoot for the 2014 Haggar Christmas card. This is usually taken somewhere out at the lakes because a) it is a place in which the five of us are most likely to unite, in these times during which we've spread out to all corners of the globe b) it usually provides more unique pictures than Rock Rapids does c) we all look tan and sexy when we are there.

2) A trip to the Barn Swallow, a crafty shop that the women in our family enjoy exploring and the men in our family enjoy sitting outside of. I actually bought a few things there this year (like, bacon-flavored chapstick). No pictures of the Barn Swallow ever make it anywhere, so here is a photo of some small black fish that were everywhere.

3) A trip to Mrs. Lady's, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Arnold's Park that, despite what Nasty Nate will say, has the cheesiest, most delicious nachos in the tri-state area. The food there is very good across the board; the most famous item is the Insane Taco, and it is hard to finish in one sitting. We like it there. 

4) A Nutty Bar and some time at Arnold's Park, an amusement park in a town of the same name that sits on the shores of West Okoboji. Good ice cream, nice sunset.

5) An attack by shad flies. For those of you who haven't ever stayed at a cabin on a lake in late July, a shad fly is a fly looks like a big mosquito but is a bit more hollow. They don't bite. In fact, they don't really do anything except show up en masse and emit this high-pitched buzz/whine that is pretty eerie. They are easy to kill. They gravitate toward light. They die and solidify on almost any hard surface without hesitation. Fortunately we were at the cabin in the middle of their mating season, so we discovered their wicked presence one night and ran for cover. Later my brother showed up, having completed a six-hour drive from Fergus, and, as my mom said, "Instead of greeting Michael by saying, 'Hello, hello!" we all yelled, 'Shut the door, shut the door!'" Such was their furor to invade our cabin. We held them at bay, though. Here is a Google image example of what we were dealing with:

6) A big ol' meal that had been barbecued somehow. My dad did it. He's good at what he does.

7) A fire. My dad and I made it on Monday night after everyone else had left. We didn't have to use any lighter fluid. Because we are men.

8) A sibling picture at the end of the dock. What it is.

We also went kayaking on Spirit Lake (which we've been doing more and more in the past five years) and rode some go-karts at Arnold's Park. Sweet.

And it was beautiful. I continue writing about my summer, try to quantify it with pictures and numbered lists of all the stuff I did, but in the end the phrase "words fail me" continues to be the truest expression to apply to each post. Being at the cabin - even without my family - is always amazing: it is beautiful, peaceful, and relaxing. There are all different sorts of weather. You can simply unwind and think and be.

But, of course, my family was there, and I was there, and we were together, for the last time until who knows when. So good to be in that place again with them, to laugh together over stupid jokes, to sit on the end of the dock and just be, to get out on the water and to trade stories and futures and dreams. So good. So, so, so good.