Last night I drove up to The City to attend a small event put together by Scott Beale, lead tentacle of Laughing Squid. I finally got to put my calling/business cards to proper use. I snagged two hours of fantastic conversation and went home feeling elated.
I’d point out one bit of conversation as a highlight, but there were few lows in contrast. Instead, I will merely pluck, as if from a tree heavy laden with conversation fruit, a tidbit that has been rolling around in my head like a bb in a metal bowl since.
As a recent transplant in a city under near constant assault from gold-seekers, my origins were a natural topic of discussion. One gentleman, from Denmark, who hinted speaking at least three languages, commented that he had always assumed that name of it was not from the Sioux word Mnisota meaning “sky-tinted waters,” but rather the Swedish phrase minne söta, meaning “sweet memory.” His theory was that the Swedes had named the state themselves upon arrival. I said that I would ask my Norwegian friend when I got home, but the Dane looked at me funny.
Naturally, I toe the party line, but a part of me wants to believe the other: that homesick immigrants had put axe to tree and plow to field and come away sweaty and inspired. Memories sprang up in green rows, were tended, and harvested. Families sprouted, history, memory, children: sweet — sweeties, perhaps.
That’s what it is to me, perhaps, a land of sweet memories: family, friends, cold beers on patios in the height of summer — memories rosier with each day away.
It’s just a place, I want to say. California is just a place. Minnesota is just a place. I’m the same me everywhere, but the sun is closer here, and when I look back, the old home is sweeter.