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Duluth proves to be exciting; Can it last?

I went to Duluth for a vacation this weekend, like I do this time every year. I rode the transit, ate at Hell's Kitchen, which is now Hell's Burgers, and climbed ol' Gooseberry Falls. I did all the annual family traditions, but it wasn't the same.

My trip wasn't worse; don't assume that. In many ways, it was an improvement. Every summer, I have a little more freedom to roam the lonely streets, a little more money to buy odd, obscure albums and strange sweet-scented car fresheners at the funky downtown shops, a little less hesitancy to talk to the girls who pass me on the escalator.

It was just very different. For the first time in my life, I looked at Duluth as a potential resident of the town. I observed Duluth, and the university it hosts, with the keen and judging eye of a critic. I took in every detail.

I pressed my toes on all the sidewalk cobblestones to make sure they felt right, peered deeply into the local faces and wondered if I'd feel welcome amongst these people. I walked out to the end of the pier and viewed the whole panoramic town and asked myself, 'could this be for me?'

I haven't received any definite answer from within yet. I just hear vague conflicting voices cutting through my mind's static, telling me to go here or go there. Telling me to dive headfirst into the shallow waters of the big city or stick with a community similar, though much looser, than my own. I can't make sense of any of it.

Kicking stones on the beach and looking out over Great Superior, I debated a complete turnaround from my current plan: get into the U Twin Cities and go through with it. Decisions, decisions -- I've always hated them.

I drew two letters in the sand with my toe, UM, then moved over a foot and drew two more, UMD. I tossed a rock in the air and it landed on the line between them. Sometimes, even superstition won't help you out; sometimes, you have to figure these things out all by your lonesome.

It was only when I was reading in the hotel lobby one night that I really began to fall in love with the town of Duluth, and convince myself that this may be where I want to spend four prime years of my life.

I was sitting there, bleary eyed and fighting to stay awake while my mind struggled to follow the plot of The Great Gatsby. The rich family followed the other rich family to the large mansion in West Egg, say what? I was somehow afraid that all the people staying at the Holiday Inn would find me sleeping there come morning and do unspeakable things to me with their continental breakfasts.

Suddenly, all worries of going asleep vanished. Just as I looked up from the book my imagination blended with reality: a woman ran in, clearly distraught, and six police officers followed her down the hallway. This was a crisis, and they meant business. As I passed a conference area on my way back to my room, (I had decided it was time for bed) I noticed that they were frantically writing down notes while the lady victim talked, exasperated.

That's all I saw, but it was enough action to keep me fueled for a long time. It was better than fiction. "Yes, this is surely the town for me," I thought to myself as I went to sleep that night, and wild dreams of beautiful Duluth and all its crazy action filled up my head.

I wonder if I'll still feel the same way in a week.

Nathan Kitzmann is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.