Feminist Book Club Box is almost live! Sign up for updates at
Today’s episode is going to suck you in and I promise time will fly by as you listen to it. We start with an essay about how seemingly small decisions are often the ones that completely redirect the trajectory of your life. Then I chat with one of my favorite people here in Minneapolis. Jess and I always find ourselves in deep conversations about life, feelings, and social justice so I’m not surprised that that’s exactly where we ended up while recording. She shares her story of how she came to Minneapolis for vacation and ended up staying. We talk a bit about how easy it is to feel rooted here, big truths, intuitive knowings, building community, and we finally end up at race. It’s never easy for two white ladies to talk vulnerably about how we’re fucking up racial justice, but we stumble through the honest conversation anyways. I hope this inspires you to speak up for what’s right, be intentional about your decisions, realize when you’re messing it all up, and to pick yourself up and try again.
Listen to this episode using the player below, or find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts!
Do you ever think about how certain choices you’ve made had a ripple effect on your entire life? It’s one of my favorite thought experiments, like in an alternate timeline, one tiny choice could make a world of difference.
When I attended college orientation, there was an activities fair held in the campus rec center. All kinds of clubs and organizations had set up little tables, from the College Democrats to Campus Ministry. One table caught my attention: the Rome Program. Our study abroad program in Rome was so well established that I knew I had to learn Italian and study abroad. Italy hadn’t been on my radar before but Professor Checca’s enthusiasm for it was contagious. I quickly fell in love with the language and culture and, in January of my sophomore year, I settled into my tiny room one block from the Pantheon.
I took a full course load and shared Intermediate Italian and Italian Cinema classes with my new friend MaryCatherine. She and I became close and I’m grateful that she introduced me to Ice Cream Thursday. (In Rome however, we called it Gelato Giovedì, obviously.) Every Thursday, a group of us would hit up Rome’s oldest gelateria, which happened to be just a stone’s throw from our dorm.
We moved home in May but once classes resumed in August, so did Ice Cream Thursday. That first Thursday, I rode my bike to the cafe outside MaryCatherine’s dorm and met her friends. Her best friend Joe was in attendance that night. We became fast friends, bonding over politics, music, and sports. A few months later, we were dating and the rest, as they say, was history.
If I retrace my steps to how I got here—this cute little house in the heart of Minneapolis, with the abundant raspberry bushes in the yard and a community I adore—it all began with Professor Checca’s enthusiasm. What if I hadn’t stopped by his table at orientation? I wouldn’t have gone to Rome, I wouldn’t have met MaryCatherine, and I certainly wouldn’t have met Joe.
In that alternate timeline, who is Renee? Would she have a partner who supports her decisions to follow her heart and explore what lights her up? Would she have her own business? Would she have her own home or live with one of her parents? Would she be stuck in an office job she hates? Would she be lonely or fulfilled and just on a different trajectory?
My decision to study abroad changed my life in so many ways. I may still be paying off some student loans, but it’s worth it because it got me here. I think I’ll stay. It’s funny how my desire to stay was sparked by my desire to explore, but that’s exactly how it was supposed to work out.