New Jew In Town: How Did I End Up Here?

I have a confession: A year ago, I thought Minnesota was one of the big square states near Colorado. I hadn’t even thought about the Mississippi River since fifth grade when my classmates and I would try to spell it as fast as we could. Like I said, that was a year ago. I was graduating from Johns Hopkins University with my incredibly marketable degree in Creative Writing and Jewish Studies. Shockingly, the job offers weren’t exactly rolling in. There I was, a ripe 20-year-old, one month from graduation and I thought to myself something no one with an actual rural world view has every thought, “farming is your way out”.

This isn’t as random as it sounds. I’ve been working on an organic vegetable farm owned by a woman from my synagogue every summer since I was 18. I originally sought the job out because school and tests and college applications were stressing my angsty little 18-year-old heart out and I decided to get a job on a farm to “honestly, figure my life out” (a direct line from my 12th-grade journal).

I fell in love with farming. It felt like the most obvious thing to be doing. Every other occupation and activity felt ridiculous so I came back to the fields every summer. Instead of finding an internship or something that would make me a hot-ticket employee later in life, I sat in the dirt and hung out with vegetables until the school year started back up. Honestly, I blame my parents for being so unbearably supportive of everything. “Do what you love! You’ll figure the rest out later!” Damn them and their unconditional love.

Four years after my initial decision to farm, I found myself using it again as a way to figure things out. I got accepted for a farm intern position in Princeton, Minn., and accepted it immediately, excited not to have to lie about my post-grad plans to my parent’s friends anymore. I brushed off the initial comments of my peers telling me to buy a warm coat. In my head, this was a pit stop. I was going to farm for a couple months, Instagram some seriously aesthetic photographs and by the end of the season I’d have had a career revelation, have written a novel, or I’d move on to another farm until one of those two things happened.

None of them happened. The exact thing that happens when you least expect it to happen happened. I fell in love. With a boy from Minnesota. Which I had at this point learned was basically Canada. I let myself fall in love with a boy who could potentially keep me in this freezer state forever. He wasn’t just any boy though: he was a thoroughbred NJB. Here comes my next big revelation: There are Jews here. I thought that finding a Jew in a flyover state was like finding a bagel and lox in the desert – a miracle.

I moved to Minneapolis after the farming season ended (which was basically one second after it started; let’s be honest Summer is a flash of light here) and I’ll admit, I let myself be melodramatic as all hell. I had no friends, family, or life here. Did I really think I was going to break the Minnesota Nice wall that I’m sure could be seen from space if it decided to manifest itself physically? I probably can’t break it, but maybe I can climb over it. If I can find a boyfriend, I could find a community. If I can move half way across the country, I can make a friend. If I could find a decent sandwich shop in the Midwest (France 44), I could make a life for myself here.

Amelia originally moved to Minnesota to work on a farm after graduating Johns Hopkins University last May. She now works at a law firm downtown, but makes sure to frequent the farmers markets every weekend. In her free time, she likes to start crafts she never finishes, fall asleep during movies, and teach her boyfriend Italian cooking.