JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Diary of a mad[ison] man, part III of III: The healing power of friendship.

Last Tuesday, I finally returned home after a week in Madison, punctuated by a brief trip up to Minnesota.

Way back in college, I met some people who I knew I'd stay in close touch with for the rest of my life.Today, they all live in Minneapolis, along with their families, and given that the Mini-Apple is a mere stone's throw from Madison, after my treatments ended there, I hit the road heading due north.

The weather was thinking of me, and for all three days of my visit, the sun shown and the evenings were warm.This could have been very bad news, since warm summer nights in Minnesota attract mosquitoes like democrats attract debt, and your sanity can soon be tested as the mosquitoes go out night after night on blood bar crawls. But I somehow timed my visit just right, and the bugs were not yet out in force. So for three nights straight, we ate outside, two nights in St. Paul, and one night about 40 minutes south of the Twin Cities.

These dinners were all unforgettable to me for so many reasons, but mainly they just made me feel good and helped me to forget as best I can the turmoil in my brain caused by my TBI in 2006. No, I never stopped feeling dizzy, or stopped twitching completely or felt totally free of a little nausea, but they were not top of mind, as they so often are, and that alone was a huge relief. And I credit being in the presence of some of the greatest people on the planet for these good feelings.

So many highlights -- talking politics as only former college friends can, playing the blues on homemade guitars around a dinner table, finally finishing a song started about 20 years ago, seeing the Minneapollis Institute of Art, watching one friend's son rock the hell out of a Strat, having ice cream with another friend's sons, seeing one friend's teenage daughter actually, possibly, maybe enjoying a bunch of old guys playing guitars -- too many to recount.

Thank you all in the Twin Cities for an amazing three days. You mean the world to me.

For more photos, click here.