In late October, one came; from a nursing home in Rochester. The city, 40 miles from my hometown, Winona, was fairly familiar to me.
It's where my maternal grandmother had lived and the site of a disco club called the Aquarius (not to mention the Mayo Clinic). After a good deal of deliberation, I decided I would go with her (I was working at Radio Shack at the time, but looked forward to getting outta there). We chose a place to live called Homestead Village. It was a nice complex that had a park-like setting. All the townhouses there were two levels. Our place had two bedrooms and cost only $500 a month.
Of my mom's first 5 kids, she was closest to me and later said that she cried the day I left town. My girlfriend got orientated in her job while I commenced looking for one myself. The first few weeks were quite difficult, my homesickness very acute. I had no friends in Rochester, so typically drove to Winona about once a week, visiting my mother and a couple friends. Many times, I told my beloved that I wished to return to the Island City.
My loneliness hit a nadir one winter morning when she was at work and my car wouldn't start. I was literally stuck at home. Thankfully, I had a kitten to drown my sorrows with, but I was losing ground fast. I stuck it out, though. One thing that got me through was going to the movies. Winona only had 4 screens while Rochester had 19 (including a cheap theatre). I went to an incredible amount of films during this time (my wife-to-be worked second shift, so I was totally on my own in the evenings).
It wasn't long before I found a job which helped ground me. Getting a dog in the summer of '97 also helped in this respect. The visits to Winona gradually became less frequent and before I knew it, Rochester truly felt like home.