I was leaving from our last day of ECFE class today, driving to meet a friend for lunch, when the thought occurred to me: This is also the last day of my 30s. This whole decade has gone by, and tomorrow I start a new one. Major cause for reflection, I can tell you. I had just turned 30 when I moved from Mississippi to Minnesota, so I can now say that I have lived here for a decade. Where did the time go? I was such a different person then. Not really different inside, I suppose, but the circumstances of my life were so far from where they are now. I had left a love behind in Mississippi — our relationship, never with much future, was essentially over, but feelings for each other still flared up at the end and made my leaving all the harder. I drove up here in my little Ford Escort (may she rest in peace, wherever she is), two yowling cats in the back seat (may they rest in peace, too), spending the first night in a small Illinois town, just past the Missouri border, and the second night with my friend Gina in small-town Wisconsin. I drove into town on I-94, took the Marian Street exit, and pulled up in front of the building where I would work for the next eight-plus years. For the first six weeks that I lived here, I stayed with a coworker while I looked for an apartment, and in April, the cats and I moved into my sweet little one-bedroom Chatsworth Street home, where we would live until I became engaged to Steve four years later.
Of course, I hadn't met my darling husband yet. It took three years for our stars to cross. We met just months before Sept. 11 — the Sept. 11 — and it seemed our destinies were swept up in tandem with that world event. Our first vacation together had been scheduled the same week that the airplanes flew into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania, and the flights were cancelled, and so was our trip to Montreal. Instead, we drove up north to our beloved North Shore and discovered the Cove Point Lodge, where we have gone back time and time again. By the following spring, we had gotten engaged, and a year later, we were married. That was almost half a decade ago. So: For just over half my time in Minnesota — half of my 30s — I was single, and for the other half, I was married. And then, late into the decade, I became a mother. Who would have thought I'd be celebrating my 40th birthday while pregnant? I guess it's not too surprising. I'm a Capricorn, and we are known for being late bloomers. That's a good description for a garden in Minnesota, and it feels right for me, too. I feel like I've found my bloom here in the past few years. I can only wonder what the next 10 will hold in store.