The thrill is gone. And if I’m going to be brutally honest, it’s been gone for a long, long time. Minnesota, darling, it’s time that you and I went our separate ways. That’s right, I’m breaking up with you.
Things were good once. When I first arrived, you were new and different, and I found myself in the throes of a fresh love affair. You wooed me with your wide-open, curved country spaces, your polite exterior, your golden, fresh-farm corn kisses and your succulent, wild tulips. Tulips, oh the tulips you showered me with. I had never imagined I would be able to live in a place where tulips did not arrive thirsty and in hastily pre-cut arrangements, but rather, pushed themselves up from the ground and opened their corsets to dazzling purples, custard yellows and orangey-sherbets. You threw fresh tulips and daffodils and lavender at me, let me guzzle your microbrews and introduced me to the wonderful world of sweet bars and vegetarian hot dishes. In the beginning, your rolling hills lying just beyond the town teased my bike tires and took me to new heights. I was breathless with lust for you.
And for a while, your summer kaleidoscope of colors and smells sustained me, even when they sharpened into a refreshingly cool autumn wind. You energized me, brought me outside of myself and introduced me to mid-western delights I had never experienced. We found much to entertain us at first. We went to football games, watched muscular woman roll into each other at the derby, picked out spherical pumpkins and bright red apples to drizzle caramel over. We explored the local towns together and fell in love all over again splitting a cup of steaming hot apple cider in Pepin.
Then, things began to change. Slowly, imperceptibly, I stopped seeing you in the light of our fresh romance. Your contours, scents and evocative feelings grew blurred and ceased to move me. The butterflies in my stomach grew still. We spent less time together, no longer exploring new things at our previous pace and you no longer occupied all my waking thoughts. My overwhelming desire to tell the world about you in a tumbling outpouring of emotion began to feel indulgent and trite, and I looked for entertainment elsewhere, straying from things that were tied exclusively to your identity.
As a result, you grew bitter and cold to me. You hid your gorgeous contours and squeezed the life out of all your vibrant, pulsing colors. You began to favor dressing in thick, oppressive fabrics of slate grey and obsidian black that hid your natural beauty and washed out your previously vibrant personality. You slowly hardened against me and would no longer indulge me in light-hearted play out-of-doors. Then you grimly locked me inside and hours turned into days, into months. Your deprivation was torture.
I was patient at first, tolerant of your mood swings, hot then tepid, then freezing, freezing cold. I wasn’t alone in noticing how irascible you had become. Friends, family, co-workers, even strangers on the street, stopped to talk with me about how unusual your behavior was, how harsh. They’d known you since you were a little child. They’d seen you turn cold and act petulant before and they knew how best to ride out your storms. But your extreme behavior confounded even them and no one could understand why it had gone on for so long.
Things weren’t all black and grey. There were times during those many months that we played outside, sledding down hills and sitting beside a rolling fire with a bottle of wine. Fifty shades of white. Those times got my hopes up. I really thought you were coming out of your depression, that you were ready to be happy again and be light-hearted and colorful and as flighty as the northern wind.
And each time your behavior hinted at a promise of reconciliation, I got my hopes up and took out my dresses and flip-flops in anticipation of you whisking me away on a sweet summer fling. But sensing my yearning, you would cruelly step back into your white fortress, caked with mud from the tears of my frustration, and slam the door. You retreated inside your grey self many times over those long winter months, leaving me cold and hungry. You dumped heaps of bitterly cold snow on the fading fires of my heart. Your attack on my heart, my spirit, my body was relentless and the strain caused me to gain weight. Salads were not enough for you. You demanded I gorge myself on heavy pastas laden with cheese, a poor substitute for affection. You found my attempts at resistance laughable and sabotaged my attempts at discipline. The bright, neon lights of Flapdoodles Ice Cream were an emergency beacon on those bitterly lonely, ink-black nights.
The last straw was May 2nd. You knew I had an early morning appointment and you snuck out of bed early and decimated my car with a blanket of heavy, wet snow. 15 inches was a little bit of overkill, don’t you think? You got all the neighbors talking…
Only a few days after your last tantrum, you tried to win me back with a gallant presentation of flowers – tulips, dandelions, cherry blossoms, daffodils, irises, sunflowers. You showered me with them and tried to warm me with your sunny personality. Your tears rained down softly on my face, like a fine lace handkerchief. You professed to be so sorry for your behavior. You invited me outside again, lay me down in the verdant, perfumed grass of spring and tickled my nose with your touch, as light as the wind. It was a valiant display of affection, but I’m afraid it’s too late.
The many months that I passed in cold darkness cannot be erased and I tremble when I think of being subjected to your torturous whims ever again. I’m grateful for the time we spent together in the warm sunshine of our immature love and for the moments when your sunny disposition broke through and showed me what you were capable of being. But I’m not the woman for you and it’s time that we go our separate ways. I’ll always remember you fondly, from afar.
Post script: You should know that I have never been ashamed of you. I have defended you fiercely against anyone who said that you were not good enough for me or would only leave me cold and bored. I proudly withstood the scorn of those who felt I was foolish for running so far away from home to be with you. And I was never so proud of you as when you took a stand for gays last week and let your voice be heard, loudly proclaiming equal marriage rights for all – let the gays marry and be as happy, and as miserable, as everyone else. I will forever be grateful that this victory occurred while I was living under your roof. Au revoir.