Minnesota Girl in a Trump World

When you think of a “Minnesota Girl” what comes to mind?

Not sure if it’s someone like me or not. What I’ve learned is that there are lot of diverse women in Minnesota. I’m not sure how many would claim their Minnesotan-ness as a big part of their identity. I do.

Lately I’ve become increasingly and unshakably aware of my “bubble.” On facebook, at work, the neighborhood where I live, my friends, the way I navigate my family, what I read, where I shop: nonprofit, nordeast, college artist friends, former co-workers (therapists, advocates, ED’s), my Lutheran missionary parents, the New York Times, Target and Patina. It’s a list that adds up to say a lot about me.

So last night, we met my sister and (new) brother in law in Anoka to catch up with them after their wedding. They got married two weeks ago and it’s the first time we’d seen them since their honeymoon. (Married in Two Harbors, honeymooned up the Gunflint Trail.) We met in Anoka, near where Kyle grew up, to feed the ducks at park on a river (winning entertainment for my two-and-a-half-year old) and then grab wings and pizza at Serum’s. Do you know Serum’s? It is a quintessential Midwest tavern with a long bar, antiques like old tricycles and washing troughs hanging from the ceiling, two for one bottles of Budweiser at 5pm on Saturdays, and a renowned wing selection where you can order 50+ at a time.

It was jammed and there was a line for tables the whole time we were there.

I felt immediately at home because this is the sort of tavern I was raised in: snowmobile bars, greasy spoon breakfast spots, anything NOT a chain and or with airs. My dad made sure of that. I slid into the booth and felt immediately myself. That inner self. Not the “curated” one.

We sat and relived the wedding. The funny stories, the snafus, the beautiful moments. We watched video of the father daughter dance.  I was crying again. We toasted to hanging out together, two married couples.

A steady stream of guys, from Anoka or nearby, continued to roll into the place throughout the evening. Most wearing over-sized sweatshirts, Carhart jackets, or cammo. White, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s… some single, many with wives or girlfriends. People laughing, telling stories, having fun.

Brynn and I made many trips to the bathroom (entertainment for her). So many folks at neighboring tables and booths would look up, say, “Hi cutie, or, “hi, little miss,” and smile. We traipsed over popcorn and  pull tabs littered on the floor.

On the drive home back to northeast, we talked about our bubble, and how we self segregate, even as adults. I wondered where “all” the folks in Anoka work? In the city? Elsewhere?

I’m thinking a lot about my bubble. How it felt this week to post about Trump banning the media. And having my like-minded friends validate how scary he is, the feelings we share. But at the expense of any friends or connections who don’t feel the exact same way. And how isolating it can be. ( “Are Liberals Helping Trump?” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/opinion/sunday/are-liberals-helping-trump.html?_r=1 )

I don’t know how we come together as a country right now, when I, personally, feel the polarization so intensely. With Perez, and elections in the MN DFL, I wonder, what is the democratic party going to do? I am so sick of sides and grandstanding. I want innovation, unity, inclusion, progress.

Back in northeast this morning, I feel a different kind of comfortable. I feel like I’m with my people and a culture who I’ve chosen to surround myself in adulthood. We share a worldview, or at least elements of our surroundings: diversity, hipsters, artists, intellectuals, the metropolitan aesthetic. But that girl in the tavern drinking beer and marching over pulltabs? She is very much me too. And so are those guys, those girls, those bartenders hanging out there on a Saturday. We grew up in high school together, watching hockey games, knowing each other’s families, on roadies in the woods. Those are still my people, too. And I don’t want to assume to know who those people voted for. Maybe it was Hillary – for labor, public schools, the environment. Or maybe it was for Trump – for guns, jobs, isolation. Either way, somewhere in Minnesota almost 1 out of 2 voters voted for the other person. For a candidate with polar opposite views.

I’m also reading Hillbilly Elegy. How did we become so far apart? What’s getting in the way?




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