While I currently live over one thousand miles away in Washington D.C., I am who I am because of my Minnesota roots.
I’m the friend that can explain what hot dish is. I call it “pop” (because that’s the correct word). I liked Prince before 2016, and the first dance at my wedding will be to the Shane Co. radio advertisement.
Minnesota is the reason why I stop to talk to strangers on the street. Minnesota is the reason why I know how to drive properly in the snow. It’s the reason why I’m partial to Caribou Coffee and also why I consume dairy products like it’s the reason I was put on Earth, despite objections from my Jewish genes.
To ignore my northern tendencies would be to ignore my very being. Because just as the giant Spoonbridge and Cherry is to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, just as the jucy lucy is to Matt’s (or 5-8), the land of 10,000 Lakes is to me.
Admittedly, I’m quick to, almost annoyingly, point out my Minnesota heritage. But I like to think that makes me even more Minnesotan.
“This [food] would be better if it were on a stick,” I say with absolutely no context. “This reminds me of this time when I was at Valley Fair…” I proclaim to blank expressions.
I sit around and imagine what Donald Trump would say if he were from Minnesota (though I’m thankful he’s not): “I’m the best Minnesotan, by the way. I’m the greatest Minnesotan. There has never been a better Minnesotan than me. Bob Dylan? Terrible voice. Como Zoo? Lacks character.”
I swear there’s something in the Lake Minnetonka water, because I’ve never heard people from any other state be so consistently positive and enthusiastic when speaking about their upbringing. Now, as a writer and comedian in my mid-20s, my Great Lakes perspective shapes everything I do.
The diversity of my friends has helped me see different sides of situations. The laid back, “up north” attitude reminds me to put everything in context, and that it’s okay to take breaks when needed. Commuting on below-zero mornings taught me how to stay positive (and to always carry an ice scraper). Camping in the woods taught me that things may not always go as planned and to be prepared for anything. Yes, our food has been stolen by bears and racoons on multiple occasions.
What I’m trying to say is that my time spent in Minnesota has helped me learn and grow, and then eventually follow my dream. And while I’ve written scripts and videos and contributed to publications such as the Washington Post, HuffPost, and MTV News, my favorite piece I’ve written will always be the letter I wrote to my elementary school teacher asking to take the day off to go to the Twins game with my dad.
So whether I’m at a coffee shop writing an article or onstage telling a joke, I channel my Minnesota mantras for best results. And while I always encourage traveling, moving, and exploring whenever possible, for me, home will always be where the heart — and where the snow — is.