The Long Way Home 5.26.23

About a year ago I wrote a column about overtourism and the fact that no one in positions that matter on the North Shore was paying the subject any attention. It actually got a lot of circulation on the Facebook webs and plenty of attention from the tourism supporters who think I’m a moron, mostly because I would not have moved here if not for tourism. That is so obviously true that it doesn’t require a response. I still don’t hear much talk of regulating tourism numbers, except about the wilderness area, but I won’t write about that today. Instead, I’ll tell a personal story. The bohunk and I have five grandchildren that we love and cherish. Our first and oldest granddaughter Abbey, who lives in Reno, NV, graduated high school three years ago at the height of the pandemic. Her commencement involved sitting in the car listening to the typical drivel of those ceremonies on the radio and then driving up to receive her diploma. Not as exciting as parading into the Met Center in Bloomington with a thousand classmates like I did, but we were proud. Abbey was a shy and intelligent little girl, easily frightened, but a budding writer in those early years. She grew to be an accomplished volleyball player, a standout in high school, and recruited by numerous colleges. She chose to give up the sport and enter the University of Nevada Reno to major in Biology. I proudly wear my Wolf Pack hoodie in support. Three years later she graduated with a BA in Biology. Yep, three years. She was recognized as Magna Cum Laude. My connection with the culture of higher education is pretty limited so I had to Google it to find that Magna Cum Laude means “with great distinction.” Addressing the hundreds of graduates from the College of Science and the School of Social Work at commencement, UNR President Brian Sandoval singled out our beloved Abbey with distinction, reciting a bit of her biography and the fact that during her three years at UNR she worked three jobs, sometimes all at once, and helped care for her mother, our daughter, as she went through some existential struggles. It was the best speech that I’ve heard from Sandoval, and I’ve heard a few. It wasn’t all work for Abbs. She is a well-balanced person, notable because balance is not a common trait in people I know. She’s done some traveling during these three years, including a visit to the North Shore. She has a strong network of friends and family. She’s a published writer, a fact that made me smile. Last year she worked as a researcher in some area of genetic work. The group she worked with put out a paper about their findings that has been in the medical journals. I was proud to see her byline, but the text of the article baffles me. Being old and on a fixed income, well below Minnesota's median, but too high to be poverty level, we decided we couldn’t do the trip to Nevada. To our delight however, UNR broadcast the ceremony online from its beautiful quad. Abbey’s next stop is medical school. It would be nice for us if she entered the UNR School of Medicine so she’d be close to her mama. But wherever she goes, we know she will do great things. And she’ll always have our love and support.