PRAISE FOR Elisa Korenne’s debut book Hundred Miles to Nowhere: An Unlikely Love Story.
“Big city girl marries a small town guy—that story. But never more engagingly told than in Hundred Miles to Nowhere. It’s full of humor, heart, and in the end proves that love always wins. Women will love this book, and I did, too.” ~Will Weaver, author of Sweet Land and The Last Hunter: An American Family Album
“An absolutely stunning debut. Brilliant, breathtaking and hopeful. Korenne is the ideal storyteller: part enchantress, part dogged reporter, wise, studious, generous. Her book is a superbly crafted journey into the unexpected riches of the rural American wilderness, and of the heart.” ~Josh Axelrad, author of the memoir Repeat Until Rich: A Professional Card Counter’s Chronicle of the Blackjack Wars
HUNDRED MILES TO NOWHERE: AN UNLIKELY LOVE STORY by Elisa Korenne
Sometimes, surrounded by the endless Minnesota sky, I believe I have come home. Other times, I am sure moving from New York City to rural Minnesota was a mistake.
It is morning, and I walk the half mile down my gravel driveway, humming a melody that may one day grow up to be a song. Pastures unfold in every direction, separated by copses of aspen and pine, oak and maple. Like most autumn mornings while burgundy leaves linger on the oaks, I take Meadow for a walk. Really, the yellow lab is my ex- cuse to walk myself. Every morning when I start my walk, I hope that, this time, motion will help me outpace my melancholy.
A breeze pulls the warmth from my body, stealing the last skin- sense of Chris next to me in bed. He was the reason I moved here, the beacon that drew me away from the concrete sea of city.
I am no longer sure he is enough to keep me here.
Regrets have escaped their trap again, and I am glad I am alone while they stalk me. Away from Chris, I stop pretending everything is okay.
I unravel a tangle of earphones and select a recent “This American Life” podcast, placing one earphone in my ear and letting the other dangle free. In my right ear, behind Ira Glass’s nasal drawl, I hear the background noise of New York City traffic. In my left ear, the chuckle- call of sandhill cranes. I cannot tune out one ear in favor of the other, just as I can no longer be only one version of myself.
I stand at the intersection of two lives.
In my old life in New York City, I woke to a world alive with activ- ity. Trucks grumbled at idle underneath my window, and the air was thick with diesel and the scent of cumin from the Mexican restaurant across the street. The only sky was a thin slice at the top of my window. In Minnesota, the sky has its own topography. Over a monotony of flat landscape, the sky is filled with crags and altitude, mountains and valleys, color and elevation. Today’s sky is an expanse of soft gray blankets. A pink sun shines through a small opening to the east, a crack of morning light beneath cosmic bed sheets. The air is thick with the promise of rain, and I inhale earth, pine, and sweetgrass, hoping the
scents might cultivate the barren terrain inside me.
In New York City, I walked a purposeful vector to the subway,
along the way accommodating crowds of pedestrians in a practiced dance. Over the course of four blocks I passed eight restaurants, four boutiques, a laundromat, a Dominican bodega, a gourmet grocery, and a Korean deli.
Meadow and I have walked the equivalent of four Brooklyn blocks and passed nobody. We are not even halfway down my driveway. The driveway bends sixty degrees toward the road, and I can no longer see my house, just fields lined by clumps of thorny mountain ash.
To the north, a rotting wood-plank deer stand is poised like a macabre Tinker Toy on stilts. The empty rectangle of its window stares at me, an unlidded eye where hunters rest their rifles and sight their prey. I am the deer before the hunter shoots. I long to run, but I don’t know which would be worse: standing as still as I can, hoping to blend into my surroundings, or bolting back to where I came from.