There was a specific moment when I fell in love with the Twin Cities, when I realized that I wasn't going to be moving back to northern Minnesota at the first available opportunity. Mike and I had moved to a southern suburb after we graduated from college in May 2009, back when the economy was terrible. Mike's computer science degree and internships landed him a decent job, but I had a mathematics degree and no idea what to do with it. I had ruled out being an actuary, teaching, and going to grad school, and for the time being had found a job as a billing clerk at a manufacturing company.
The first few months were a blur of unpacking boxes, trips to Ikea as we furnished our townhome, and weekend outings to the tourist highlights of the Twin Cities. But after the novelty wore off, I was working in a repetitive job that gave me lots of time for introspection. I wanted to do something different, but I wasn't sure what that meant, and driving anywhere beyond Target, the grocery store, and the nearby industrial park where I worked terrified me.
I don't remember how it happened, but one weekend we ended up walking around Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, and we stumbled upon Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream in the Linden Hills neighborhood. Sebastian Joe's is my kind of place, with an outdoor patio under huge leafy oak trees and a giant tortoise statue for kids to climb on. But obviously, the real draw is the ice cream: they make their ice cream in small batches out of natural ingredients, and the flavor line up changes daily. The raspberry-chocolate chip ice cream cone that I ate on my first visit was the best ice cream that I had ever had. I could taste the ripe raspberries, high quality chocolate, and the flavor of infinite possibilities. Clearly, there were good things to be had in the metropolis, intimidating as it seemed at first. That ice cream cone marked my realization that there were opportunities for me beyond what was familiar, if I was willing to seek them out.
By the end of that summer, I had joined a knitting group, started running, and had begun the still-ongoing process of becoming a cook. I eventually went back to school to earn my paralegal certificate and got a job in downtown Minneapolis. I spent a year baking bread, learned to fearlessly navigate downtown Minneapolis rush hour traffic, and ran a 5K. We bought a house, subscribed to a CSA, and explored the Twin Cities, in search of good food and interesting walks.
And it all started with ice cream.