Just hear me out.
Sometimes, if you’re extremely lucky, you find something so wonderful and pure, so unapologetically cheerful, so transcendentally beautiful that it changes your life forever and you have no choice but to let it influence all of your major decisions.
For me, that thing is the ’90s TV godsend, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
It’s an absurdly long story, but the point of it is that when I was 15, MST3K saved my life.
I was suicidal because of my borderline personality disorder, and no one had figured out yet that the pills they were feeding me every day weren’t effective. So I was unstable, untreated, and pubescent, and as a result, unbearably miserable. I was so preoccupied with being acutely mentally ill that I didn’t know how to love anyone or anything. Or maybe I just didn’t want to.
Joel Hodgson made me want to.
My mentally ill assertion that I would never care for a human being crumbled to sand and blew away when this stupid, low-budget, hopelessly Midwestern puppet show and its sleepy brunette creator were introduced into my life when I was 15.
Now, seven years later, I find myself still living with my parents, still treated like a hospital patient in my own home, still unable to make the independent decisions that an intelligent person in her early twenties should be able to make. And it all boils down to my personality disorder: had I not gotten sick in junior high (or possibly when I was born), I would be out in the world right now, building empires with my creativity and making my own 30-year legacy like Joel has.
I have that in me. It’s just been buried in depression.
For ten years.
The next life choice I make needs to be bigger and stronger than the disease that has been pummeling me into the ground my entire adult life. If my convictions going forward are weak, mental illness will swallow them and I’ll end up back in my parents’ house – that’s a guarantee. Moving out is the obvious first step: it allows me to be independent. But where can I go that has a vibrant arts scene, is home to many of my friends, and has some sort of spiritual connection to Mystery Science Theater?
MST3K originally aired on a UHF station in the Twin Cities, because that’s where it was made. The cowtown puppet show’s first ten seasons were written and filmed in an otherwise unextraordinary office park just outside of Minneapolis, and the demeanor of the show reflects that suburban charm. I’ve been there twice and absolutely loved it.
Before you get up in arms about the sheer stupidity of the major decision I’m about to make, please understand that I have nowhere else to go. I can’t even move back to my hometown of Boulder, CO, because ever since Google set up camp there, rent has become prohibitively expensive. San Francisco, which is my favorite place on Earth, is also out of the question for the same reason. After ruling out the two places I could possibly already call home, every potential new city where I could live is equally foreign and scary to me.
Except one, of course.
Just to be clear, nothing is set in stone yet. There are a lot of finances and logistics to work out before I can say my heart is irreversibly set on Minnesota. For now, I can only say I’m pretty sure that’s where I’m going. After all, a lot of the show’s original cast, many of whom I’m extremely fortunate to call my friends, still live in the Twin Cities area. As far as I’m concerned, if Minneapolis is good enough for the people who have brought me more happiness than anything else has since I was 15, it’s good enough for me.