The most recent incident happened in a dentist's chair.
Said the hygienist, a naturalized Croatian in her thirties who'd immigrated to Minnesota more than a decade ago: "Yes, I like it here, but I've been thinking about moving to Florida."
Incapable of offering a defense due to a numbed mouth packed with gauze, I rolled my eyes. After being AWOL from the Land of 10,000 Lakes land for almost two decades, it's reassuring to see how some things haven't changed
Case in point: Minnesota's inferiority complex.
I remember it well. We're situated in the middle of nowhere. We feel insignificant, that the rest of country pays us no mind.
We're the city that proudly adopted "The Minneapple," as if being New York's forgotten little brother was something to crow about. It's left so many of us to think that somewhere else is always better.
This theme has repeatedly surfaced since I rolled back to town. My reintroduction started at work just four hours into my first day. A co-worker asked where I'd lived before moving back to the Minneapolis.
"Just outside Washington, D.C. in Maryland," I said.
Did I miss it? she asked.
"Absolutely," I responded. "Walking around the Lincoln and World War II Memorials at night, going downtown for Capitals' games, being able to take my son to the Martin Luther King Memorial on Martin Luther King Day.
"But there's plenty I don't," I added. "Traffic. Week after week in the summer when you feel like you're living in somebody's armpit. The big city, East Coast mentality where even the white trash think the world is all about them."
She mulled over my words, then thoughtfully responded, "Yeah, I've been thinking about moving out of Minnesota for awhile."
You could tell she felt as if she'd somehow missed out on life, that she may have been cheated somehow.
My best friend of 20 years shared a similar sentiment. He informed me he was "looking to get out of Minnesota, maybe move to Austin," Texas when his youngest son graduates from high school.
Having your best friend tell you he's noodling on moving to Texas is dagger enough. But when he's making post-graduation plans for a kid who's currently in sixth grade, all you're left is to privately asking yourself, "WTF?"
I totally get that Minnesota has its drawbacks.
Wind chills in February can be a quality-of-life violation and Governor Mark Dayton has yet to encounter a tax hike that didn't cause him to soak his boxer briefs with glee.
At last count, I've lived in seven different places. Every one had perks and detriments.
I will never be accused of being a smart person. On my best days, I'm mildly informed. But I do know this: When it comes to quality of life, the Twin Cities take a backseat to no place in America.
The other day I stood alone in our new house just being. I allowed myself a smile that stretched to White Bear Lake. Things felt solid inside these new digs, the home where we will enthusiastically raise our son, the place we'll use as our collective rock to position ourselves to the rest of the world.
There's no need to rattle off the grocery list of perks about the Cities. I'm sure you can come up with your own. Still, it's a buzz kill to listen time and again to people who believe that life is way better as long as it's somewhere else when you know that's simply not true.
Years back, I sat across from the desk of a wise man who had already learned the virtue of soaking in the now.
"The good old days are right now and I'm enjoying every minute of it," former Twin Cities Reader editor David Carr said. "There's nowhere else for me to be except exactly where I am."
Carr would go on to the New York Times and light the journalistic world on fire, but his wisdom applies in any time zone.
The good old days are right now in the Twin Cities. The economy hums. The Wild are about to make a playoff run. Months of sunshine and water fun beckon.
To anyone who thinks here isn't the goodies, I'll put it up against any place in the country.
As you're squawking about winter and retooling your resume for the 26th time, my wife and son and me will be on our bikes, our faces pointed toward the sun as we make our way around Cedar Lake.
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