Here it is. My last day in Grand Marais. My belongings are waiting for me in the new townhouse. Or stuffed unceremoniously in my car. And I have one night to say goodbye to everyone and everything this town has given me. So here I sit, sipping an organic coconut water from the Co-op, trying to get my game face on, listening to the “Pop Chillout” station on Spotify, tearing up when Mumford and Sons plays, and recounting all the things I did and didn’t do.
The day so far has been a mellow one. For a guy notorious for moving solely for the going away party, it’s been a pretty somber affair. Started the day with my favorite snack: a smores bar and locally-roasted Fika Coffee.
Had a gyro and a beer up on the roof of Sydney’s.
Swung by the local book store and signed a copy of Coming of Mage–even got it a spot on the summer promotional display.
Sat in the harbor, taking panorama shots of the sailboats between the lighthouses.
Poked my head into all the little shoppes, knowing full well that even if I could afford another souvenir, it would split my little blue car at the seams.
I tasted the air. Chewed on my lip. Rubbed my eyes. Blamed it on allergies.
It’s not that I’ve never moved before. There’s been plenty of that. It’s that I’ve never left someplace I loved so much.
I think back to what brought me up there in the first place. It was about 5 years ago to the day actually. My Hollywood Video job was about 2 weeks expired. I had just finished up the mandatory class required to get unemployment. My lease was ending. All my stuff was packed. And even though I’d been telling people for weeks that “Yeah, my cousin’s working at a restaurant up north, so I’m going to go see if I can wait tables,” I still didn’t feel like I was moving. I’d been to Grand Marais briefly when I helped Wally and his family move. I remembered there was a gas station, and that it was cold. But I knew that I was going there. That there was no turning back. This was the path I’d chosen.
At first, it was a prison sentence. I lived in a frigid, cement basement. Most nights I would get just drunk enough that it wouldn’t bother me to scrape the spiders off the underside of my pillow. I served food in a busy, understaffed restaurant, pushing myself to the brink of a coronary day after day. I babysat. I stayed around the house for the most part. Waited for winter. I started this blog, and took this lonely picture out of the window in the living room:
After a year, I figured out I was ready to bolt. I missed my friends. I missed Target. I thought I was ready to return to civilization. But I was wrong. And we all know how that turned out.*
*If you don’t remember the Fucklebees Saga, refer to my Facebook circa 2011.
So I came back to the North Shore and jumped in headfirst. I hiked, climbed, and did. And did. And did. And did. I stayed busy. I wrote a book. I wrote a lot. I embraced kale. I lost weight. I canceled my Netflix. I fell in love.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah. Why I’m leaving.
Truthfully, I don’t know. There were reasons–are reasons. It’s just that today I can’t remember any of them, other than that I no longer have keys to my old apartment.
It’s not like when I left St. Cloud. I’ve tried to channel 2010 Mikel in the last few days, but he’s not there. This place changed him.
But I try to remember how scared I was. Broke, unemployed, banking everything on the idea that the unknown was better than the present.
It’ll be different this time. There will be more traffic, for starters.
However, as of this moment–this tiny pinpoint where everything and nothing can change–I still have tonight. One night to find solace in my favorite haunts. To see everything I’ve grown accustomed to through a wet, salty haze. To laugh. To remember. To say goodbye.
To never forget.