Jodi Hills

So this is who I am – a writer that paints, a painter that writes…


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Carry it with you.

The first time Dominique came to Minneapolis, it was summer. Welcome breezes waved through our clothes as 90 degrees reflected off the Mississippi River.  Exposed arms and hands brushed and held. We dined al fresco. And stole kisses in the never ending light. We moved easily from house to car to dry sidewalks and green grass. The tumble of August, said, “Go ahead, “fall in love!”  And we did!

The second time he came to Minneapolis it was 40 below zero. Our breath was the only thing dancing in the air, inside the car…and this is when I knew he really, really, really loved me.  

Helen Keller was quoted, “What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” I believe it. And so it is with my Minneapolis. My mother. My husband. My friends. Every beautiful moment, love’s eternal warm breezes, flowing within my heart — deeply. I keep tumbling.


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Love called her name.

I arrived in Marseille yesterday afternoon. Somehow my heart was moving my feet, without any assistance from my brain. The one-way doors to the public area were just past the luggage carousels. The people in front of me, clearly had no luggage, and started to walk through. From a distance, I could see Dominique in his red cashmere sweater (the one I gave him for his birthday). My heart ran through the “no re-entry doors” – straight to his arms. We hugged for the forever that we have promised, and then he said, “Did you get your luggage?”

There is a joke, I don’t quite remember, about “renouncing all of your material goods at the airport,” and clearly, I had done just that. We had to search two floors of the airport for security guards to get us back in. And we did. I got my luggage, but not before my heart got what it needed most.

I suppose some might think – “Well, that’s embarrassing” – but I’m thankful, thankful for a love that rules over everything. I hope on this day of thanks, and every day, we can all say the same.


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I called it.

We were always running. To the neighbors. On the field. In the sand toward the water. To our bicycles – to go even faster. Racing to the joy of it all. But there was something so special about riding in the front seat of the car, we not only raced toward it, we “called it.” And for some reason, we abided by these rules – even if you didn’t get to the car first, if you, in fact, had shouted out “I call the front seat,” then it was yours. The power we held.

I was thinking, wishing actually, praying even, for some of that power. Some of that joy. “If only I was able to reserve it – call it out to be mine.” And as I was thinking, my mind racing in bumper tennis shoes, it occurred to me, maybe I still do. What if I decided today was going to be filled with that speed, that speed that only comes from pure joy? That feeling that blows your hair back and your heart forward. That’s what I want. What if I just “called it?” 

We raced through the streets of Chicago. New York. My mom and I. It never occurred to me that she was aging. We ran. Arms draped with packages. From the Magnificent Mile (and it was true to its name!) to the city that never sleeps. We ran. Nothing but joy. And the thing is, in my heart, it’s still happening. My heart races in the memory of it all. 

Today might not be easy, but there will be joy, lifting my feet, lifting my heart. I believe in it. I have to. I already called it!


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Looking for things to steal.

I guess I’m always looking for things to steal – two petite jars of French honey from First Class, and a glance of the Eiffel Tower through my passenger’s window on the right.

It’s a standing joke I have with friends. They have good taste. And as a compliment, I say if I were a different person, I would totally steal it. I have filled my imaginary bags of loot through the years, and we laugh. But the truth is, I am always trying to take something with me. The funniest line over dinner. Maybe a recipe. That feeling of pure comfort that only comes from true relationships. True hearts. Those moments that you can’t quite put your finger on, but want them never to end. MAGIC. That’s all I’m really trying to steal, a bit of the magic.

We just landed in Paris. My safe is full. Thank you, Mom. Minnesota. Alexandria. Friends. Family. History that begins and begins. Forever thieves of time. Of hearts. You have mine. I carry yours.


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Journey home.

Had I known I was going to be running at full speed, I would have worn tighter underpants.

Yesterday’s adventure began in Marseille. Nothing too out of the ordinary. Checked our bags. Got yelled at by the girl at the coffee shop — “anglaise,” she said with disdain – meaning English. Sure I had a few tears, and then threw the coffee away after three sips because it took her 20 minutes to make two lattes and we had to get through customs.

But the flight to Paris was uneventful. We waited on the tarmac for 40 minutes. Dominique’s back is extremely broken at the moment – so we had reserved assistance to cross the airport for our connecting flight. 40 minutes of our 90 minute layover had already been used up. They would be boarding soon. The walkie-talkies were humming and finally we got the wheelchair and the woman took hold of it, looked back at me – as I felt the rush of her orange vest, I heard, “Run Mother F####r!” And she was off. Yes, in full sprint! I, wearing a dress, because I still refuse to wear what some dare to call lounge wear on the plane, grabbed a hold of my underpants with one hand, balanced my sack with my other and ran! And ran.

I caught my breath on stairs as she navigated the lifts. One bus and two shuttles later, we were on the flight, just as the captain announced a thirty minute delay.

In air, we wrestled with the usual subjects — movies we would never watch on land. I read most of a new book. We stretched. Laughed, replaying our airport run over and over. After landing, we realized no one had taken the time to yell the same encouragement at the baggage handlers — our bags were still in Paris.

But Minneapolis! This! Empty handed, full hearted, we were here – we ARE here. We stopped at Walgreens to pick up a few supplies for the night. Toothbrushes, etc. I got a little make-up – yes, my mother taught me well. Water. Hair brush. I was only hoping for one more thing that I couldn’t find. I asked the clerk in the aisle – “Do you have underpants?” She looked at me strangely. “Do I?” she asked. Realizing her hesitation – “No… the store – do you carry underpants?” Her relief was palpable. “Yes, in the back corner.” Exhausted, we were given, once again, the gift of laughter.

Home has never been perfect. But it has always welcomed me. It has always taken me by the heart and made me giggle. So yes, I will make that run – again and again! I will take that journey home!