I have been living in Minnesota since 2010, so I think I have earned the right to talk about this society and the qualities and defects that characterize these people because I have paid my dues and I am both, suffering and enjoying these folks and lands.
Of course, before you first come here, you learn that this is an extremely cold place and you have to be ready for the brutal temperatures of winter. So, you buy an extreme jacket, extreme gloves, extreme scarves and hats because the winter is so extreme that you are confronted with a life-or-death situation every time you walk out the door, for real, winters in Minnesota are no laughing matter and only these folks can endure these long, dark and terribly cold months and still find things to have fun with, survive and thrive. These people are the real thing.
When I came here I never suspected that I was going to be tested so deeply, in so many significant ways nor that my life was about to change so drastically. I had the paraphernalia well thought out, I was excited I was going to see snow (HA! extreme eye-rolling!). My language skills were going to be confronted with exciting new discoveries, my taste buds were ready to learn new flavors, I was so over the moon!
Gosh, did I learn things here! I learned extreme personal pain and loss. As brutal as the temperatures.
I learned that the snow “sings” when it melts, but I also learned that if you are not back inside in 10 minutes or less, you may lose the tip of your nose or a finger. That was the reason why nobody was out there enjoying this beautiful and relaxing sound of crystalline drops of water that shine like diamonds!
Obviously, the nice outfits I brought with me, the nice shoes and jackets… they were replaced, in no time, by jeans, sweaters, and layers upon layers of t-shirts, which is the only way to keep your warmth around you.
I made so many rookie mistakes that, if I compare myself to a rookie, I would be offending them! I was the perfect example of stupidity with every step I took and every word I said.
Tip: don’t try to wash your windshield while parked outside because driving with a frozen solid, thick layer of ice between you and the rest of the world, is absolutely impossible.
As impossible as warming up your fingers if you didn’t put your gloves on before going outside, blue fingers are really painful.
My most significant lessons came when I started learning how our psyche works, at a level of complexity that I had only heard of before. These people tried the deepest roots of my Latina blood, they can be as cold as their winters.
You see? great painters like Picasso, Van Gogh and Miro had a “blue moment” or two, I had thousands! I had to learn about all sorts of pain and setbacks from life at the same time that I had to learn how to decode these folks. The cultural shock is tough because Latinos and Minnesotans are total opposites, and I was completely unprepared to understand what I had in front of me.
In other posts, I will tell you stories of people around here and what it took me to learn how to discern and separate great people who seem rude, just because they are tough, from narcissists and psychos of all sorts. Those that exist in all kinds of cultures regardless of the ancestry behind them.
In these times of extreme divisiveness, understanding what makes us unique and what differentiates us from others is crucial so we can learn how to become more integrated, more united.
People out there are angry and looking for answers that seem elusive. Nobody really knows if Latinos are the perpetrators of horrible crimes or if the government is capable of goodness. These are times of confusion, fear, and anger that will hopefully find a solution soon. But Minnesota taught me that we are all humans with the same exact needs: love, understanding and someone that listens to us, regardless of political views, religious beliefs and extreme temperatures.
Spoiler alert: I feel at home here!