When I moved to Duluth from San Francisco in July 2004, my fiancé Jeremy and I rented a first-floor apartment in a 100-year-old house on Third Street. The elegant flight of stairs inside our foyer was an egress for the upstairs apartment, so we had to keep the door between us unlocked. Jeremy didn’t seem worried; he had been living in Ely, where everyone leaves their keys in the ignition. Turned out our upstairs neighbors were a couple of women who rescued abandoned baby animals and nursed them with eye droppers. I stopped worrying about it, too.
From our back porch we grilled brats, drank Lake Superior Special Ale, and gazed at the brewing company’s namesake. I had never had a porch, a grill, or a view this pretty. As I looked across the blue water I felt my shoulders relax. I felt off the map, like a witness relocated: no one from my past life could find me here unless I wanted them to.
Then one morning in the window of Positively 3rd Street Bakery I saw someone from my past on a poster for the Bayfront Blues Festival: Koko Taylor. Now I was old enough to see her sing. The last time I was not, and that was a long time ago.