i have left my heart in so many places.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

i. One, the shores of Lake Superior. I lost it while looking for rocks. It may have fell from my fingers when my feet touched the chill of the water. I know it slipped from my chest and was lost in the sand that is more stone than dirt.

ii. Two, the starlit sky of Bemidji. We swam in the chilly darkness lit only by the weak light from the boat. Our towels were still damp from earlier and so we jumped, again and again, from the side of the boat, into the dark warm waters. My heart found a place in the sky, in that moment of shivery breath before you hit the water, when the stars are all you can taste.

iii. Three, the airport in Texas. It may have been strange, but my hands were full of bags and it was easy to leave behind. My heart is somewhere nestled in the seat on row nine.

iv. Four, somewhere across the midwest. Halfway between Texas and home, I lost my heart in the sky (always) and the quiet of the plane over the earth miles and miles below. I wished for sunset and drank ginger ale and let it slip from my hands when the land became green again.

v. Five, Woodland. Language is never enough for this place. And I wonder, when did I leave my heart there for the first time? Was it running from cabin to cabin the first day? Maybe I let go of a piece of my heart when I reeled in my first fish? Somehow, it's pressed between damp life jackets and sandy flip-flops and waking up to the smell of the lake in my hair and freckles from Woodland sun on my skin. I may have lost my heart all together, or maybe I've been losing it slowly, bit by bit, until coming there, I realized I was home.

vi. Six, Duluth. Like so many memories, the best are moments we recognize as important, even in their momentary seemingly insignificance. I left my heart in the visitor's center and found it on the beaches, the city, the roads between places, and the traditions that forever found a place in my summers. I have never been a tourist in that city in my life.

vii. Seven, my grandpa and grandma Maxson's home. I left my heart there, hook line and sinker, from the first moment I came and I've been finding myself there ever since. (two things I've realized: my story smells like apples and looks an awful lot like lying under blankets in their backyard watching northern lights)

viii. Eight, my grandpa and grandma Martin's home. I played under the tall trees and picked wild boysenberries from the little tree and adventured in the steps leading to their small porch like it was my own. I scattered pieces of my heart on the trail from their door to mine, like Hansel and Gretel, but unlike them, I've always known the road to home.

ix. Nine, Door County. I see the sunset and the rocks we stacked high on the beaches of stone. I skinned my knee in the circular driveway when my grandpa taught me to ride a bike and I stuck close to my dad when we went into the restaurant with goats on the roof. And it has been so long, but the thing with leaving is that you always know where to go back to be found.

x. Ten, California. It was in the long stretches of beach and the tide pools we dug out of the sand. We laid in the hollowed holes and let the water wash into them, along with gifts from the ocean, and I left some of my heart there in return. I couldn't help loving it. It's hard not to, spending days with feet sandy from the beach and hair salty from the sea.

xi. Eleven, Colorado. I lost my heart in the trees that pulled the sky to earth and the walls of rock leading into Denver. I sat up from my pillow and road trip sleep and marveled at a place where the tips of the world touched another.

xii. Twelve, New Zealand. My heart is so firmly cemented in a place I have yet to put my handprint. Sometimes we look for places but other times, they find us.

xiii. Thirteen, Minnesota. Growing up in places thick with green and deep with snow. There is no way I cannot love this place, cannot call it my home. I left my heart here in the beginning and am just now remembering why.


  1. this is beautiful, Hannah. i think everyone leaves pieces of their heart wherever they visit--whether it's in remembrance of the scenery, or the love for the people. :)

    much love, mikailah

  2. thissss. so perfect. I've left my heart in so many places I don't know where it belongs anymore. I guess that's the (wonderful) price you pay for traveling.

  3. this was so inspiring, hanners. what an awesome combination of nostalgia and wanderlust. xx

  4. woahh i didn't know you had been to new zealand. but i love that part of your heart is here, come back and find it.

  5. this is my absolute favourite thing you have ever written. too beautiful for words. we leave our hearts all sorts of places, don't we? funny, I think mine is deep beneath the ocean off an island I want to revisit.

  6. the part about texas made me smile. :)
    love these words. there is so much meaning and so many memories.

  7. I just wanted to tell you that you perfectly captured the feeling that traveling gives you which no one ever seems to warn you about. Namely, that sometimes places steal your heart and you can never really get it back. This is absolutely beautiful and so true. And of course, I have to mention that New Zealand is one place that has stolen my heart before I've even visited it, just like you. :)

  8. wow. you have such a way with words.
    and i just love this all the way around. :)

  9. love this. I think we've all left our hearts in different places...such a beautiful way of capturing this idea too.


  10. this, this is amazing ! If you ever go to New Zealand you must, must visit Australia. Your words are incredible

  11. I can't tell you how much I love this, dear hannie girl - and oh, so very pleased you left a piece of your heart in a place my own calls home. ;) I hope someday you'll come back to the sunny beaches of california and reclaim the little piece of your heart buried in the sand. ;) xoxo | grace

  12. Doll, you are a writer. News flash. ;)

  13. this totally inspired me to write about where my heart is a couple of days ago on 750 words. you're a beautiful writer, han. :)