Serene Lusano

Dear friend,

Next month it will have been one year that I have resided in the north woods in the state of Minnesota, and this weekend my dear, dear friend will be visiting me from home in California! I almost can’t believe it, perhaps because her Californian procrastination put off purchasing the plane tickets until yesterday, Monday, and I am only now emotionally up to speed!; Excitement: The woman I have held the longest adoration and affection for in my life, besides my mother and sisters, will be sitting beside me for morning cups of coffee once more as we discuss art, books, flowers, existence, color, life, et cetera!; Trepidation: I haven’t lived in California for a year and that city speed of talking has fallen away from my cadence; like a political bumper sticker that has been obscured by backroads dirt and grime in the wake of exploratory adventure, my words and beliefs have nestled further into privacy, further obscured than even before. Will we still get on the way we have in years gone by?

Anyhow, to quell and put use to my anxieties, here it is: A short editorial primer for my dear friend before she spends a week with us in the woods. But first, it wouldn’t be a letter from me if there wasn’t an overly descriptive tangential anecdote.

In Annabella’s Antique Mall in Bovey on the top floor, front-left corner, there is a book priced at $25 that I prefer to idly hold and flip through rather than actually purchase and feel pressured to fully read. It is called “Bring Warm Clothes: Letters and Photos from Minnesota’s Past.” On the cover, a vintage black and white photograph shows a surly group of individuals sitting on an extra long toboggan in the snow with stoic and unamused expressions. In the front pages of the hefty collection a charming dedication reads something to the effect of: “Dedicated to those that write letters and record history, and to those who keep the letters and photos safe for generations to come” or some such sweetness as that.

So without further ado, a primer for one’s late June travels hitherto:

1. I am sorry about the mosquitoes.

For every heaven there is a hell, for every yin there is a yang, light – there is a dark, and on and on and onward with the existence of inverse binaries ad infinitum. This is the land of 10,000 lakes, of massive cloudbanks, unrefined beauty and passive natural existence, and yes, mosquitoes. It’s just how it is.

2. Dress for an aesthetic adventure.

I recommend shoes and clothing for enjoyment. Less so for being seen in, more so for keeping creepy ticks from burrowing into your epidermis, for swimming and paddling about in the water and idly contemplating nature as you sit among the trees. Traveling to Duluth is the same distance as Sacramento to San Francisco, Minneapolis is a three-hour car ride with a bathroom pit stop in Moose Lake. But if you have come to see how it is I have lived, prepare your outfit and blank white sketchbook pages for fresh air and undiluted sentiments.

3. Suspend expectation, increase curiosity.

This is generally good advice when travelling or immersing oneself in a new experience, period. But this isn’t Californian convenience, culture or commerce. It is, however, a community, a shared experience, and a uniquely humble existence in and around the Iron Range. If you forget to pack anything, we can drive into town and see if we can’t get it at Walmart.

So that’s it, short and to the point. I’m not terribly worried about the last suggestion, as my dear friend is one of the friendliest and most open people I know – sometimes getting lost in conversations with strangers who were simply asking her to bum a lowly smoke.

Perhaps it’s the stripped down simplicity of my current life, but the value of my friends and family has grown exponentially. Ones of my tribe, the ones who truly get me; the ones with whom I belong, even when we are miles apart; though not always, and hopefully not forever.

Infinity of affinity, 



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