22 moves, 8 states, and 33 years; this has been my transient life up until last year, when I found myself buying a house and settling down in Winona, MN. Excited but mystified by this concept of permanence, I began to look for reasons why this town so quickly felt like ‘home’ when I didn’t quite know what that meant.
Winona is a beautiful and charismatic town, but also wonderfully weird. It is historical, but lived-in. The town’s wealthy history has a strong presence on every block, and many gorgeous downtown buildings showcase Winona’s golden age. However, I also love the less glorified and nostalgic evidence of Winona’s past, especially places that have been awkwardly repurposed or forgotten. Downtown, a crumbling and forgotten former dance hall now houses rolls of discount carpet. Outside my office, there is a continually blinking box that alerts us to the phone status of employees who are decades retired… with no current phones connected. The town is an anachronism, a place where past and present coexist naturally with one another. Winona seems very comfortable with the way it exists; everything feels like it just belongs, and in turn, so do I.