Because adventure is so often found in your own backyard!
I’ve just turned 26 and I’m finally starting to feel settled into my little studio on Lyndale Avenue. I feel excited living in Minneapolis. I enjoy immensely the look of the skyscrapers, shining blue from the clear sky they’re designed to reflect. The potholes are an annoyance, but like a screaming children, you just learn to avoid them.
Tonight is actually a night off, one of the extremely few I’ve had since moving in three weeks ago. Until now the Whiskey Room has been a place to flop, pee and hasten a meal together for the week. It is night’s like this, however, where I am able to lounge on the click-clack and while away the evening with a book – dreaming of the blogs and stories I want to share. Falling completely in love with the Romanticism in which I find myself. Grand illusions of prosperity are not my concern right now. If there is one thing I’ve learned in these three weeks it’s that moving is expensive! I am thankful for my tax return, for without it, I might be at my lowest since that first summer two years ago. Indeed, despite the unplanned nature of my move, I feel confident knowing that I have a good steady job and the initial outpouring of funds will (and has already) peter off. Time will bring more paychecks and less furnishings to spend money on.
With my cozy night off I begin to taste the first offerings of summer in Uptown. Though on the ground floor, my windows are open, with the sounds of rambunctious bar hoppers drifting through. I noticed this the other night as I laid my head down to sleep, past midnight. I do expect the shouts, screams and cheers to accompany me to sleep every night and with that, I’m okay. These sounds and the blares of an emergency vehicle, or roar of a motorcycle, are what defines “city living”. For a long time my imagination has been captivated by this imagery and finally I can say that it is reality. I may not be in New York, but I can share in a unique experience that not everyone knows.
My food situation is currently one of efficiency. Like last Sunday, I have prepared a meal of rice, vegetables and ground meat to last me through the week. For lunches, I have stocked the fridge at work with bananas, peanut butter and bread. This type of arrangements seems to have an air of camping about it, doesn’t it? At home I brew my own coffee and cook in the skillet. I’ve indulged in a little beer and season everything with salt and pepper. Are there other flavors?
The studio itself may be dubbed the Whiskey Room for now, but that was before I really got to know it. I believe a name must be organic and no matter how often you called something… something, if it doesn’t “feel right” then it is a futile effort. I’m not sure “Whiskey Room” feels right. For one, it sounds juvenile. At least not as sophisticated as I once imagined. Second, as the furniture and decor come to life, the apartment feel more like an office – the type of office from which I can eventually amass my fortune and run an empire. I may never actually know what wealth feels like, but I believe it’s a healthy objective, to fuel ambition.
Perhaps my favorite thing about the studio is my desk and the mountain of books atop it. More lay in yet-to-be-opened boxes, naturally, but it does my heart good to see the pages out and breathing. Maybe my home will be known as the Library? The Study? See, it can’t be contrived.
The text currently holding my attention hostage is a whimsical book by John Steinbeck I happened upon at the Salvation Army on South Nicollet called Travels with Charley. Not only do I love Steinbeck, but I also had a dog named Charley and I also share a love of traveling. The book is indeed a road trip novel, recounting his cross country odyssey when the twilight of his years called upon him to see the country one last time. Of course, I hope to have more than one road trip left in me, but the book is written so delightfully as Steinbeck describes his experiences from a first person narrative. It is a diary in effect, akin to the records of any pioneer. It is from these pages I’ve gotten the inspiration to record my own thoughts and feelings here. I hope I’ve so far relayed some of the beautifully trivial elements of my new life in a similar manner. Equally inspiring then, is the longing to travel.
Not only do I love to travel (I feel everyone with a Tinder account “loves to travel”) but since high school I have felt a true wanderlust to see every square inch of the planet as possible. Two things probably account for this: Errol Flynn’s memoir My Wicked, Wicked Way and my own father’s life as he bounced from England to Australia to Spain and then Florida. If I really do have Gypsy in my blood, as my family is quick to say, then I’m doomed to a life of restlessness; always thinking about the next place. Even now as I embrace my status as a Minneapolitan, I’m resolved to explore new geography in two or three years.
Perhaps what my draw me away is some group of people I’ve yet to meet. While wanting to see new places might be the fire of traveling, meeting new people is certainly the fuel to feed the flames. You can take pictures of a hundred monuments but it’s that one night you spent with a stranger that’ll capture one’s imagination. This is the true spirit of travel, I think, and like Steinbeck I want to journal about those moments. The human interactions that are seemingly mundane, but are what make the whole damn thing so exciting. My whole drive from Orlando to Memphis where I encountered so many quirky people – my Tupelo Tiffany and the grizzled Southern woman behind the counter who’s smile and use of the word “hon” still holds my attention. Then there was Jay Pastucha’s family in Pensacola who welcomed me – a weary traveler – into their home for food and an easy night’s sleep. Then a world away in Salem, Massachusetts my family and I laughed at a poor teenage museum guide who didn’t realize how charming she was when saying “They just through them [the hanged witches] in a ditch.” Heck, everyone I interacted with in Maine – real down to earth people. Good people. Who work hard and respect each other, but never putting on airs. I got this sense from folks in east Tennessee as well. I suppose that’s just common to people who don’t have much but their discipline and love for each other. Here in Minnesota, too, there’s that sense of community and practicality, although I would say closer in spirit to New England than the more gregarious South.
What I am eager to do know is explore this state in which I reside and see if I can get a more authentic flavor than what the Twin Cities has to offer. I’ll be in Bemidji this July and after that I aim to strike north, hitting the Canadian border before turning west and exploring the badlands a bit more. I hope to take a page out of Steinbeck’s book by stopping at diners and dives along the way, to not be afraid to strike up conversation with a waitress or bartender. I will be on my own after all, so I should take advantage of any company who might come my way. The real goal being, of course, to understand and sympathize with other people who come from completely different backgrounds from my own upbringing in Kissimmee. This, I know, is easier said than done but it fucking excites me to no-end and that must be what wanderlust feels like.
Just a few hours after I wrote this, at approximately 10:30 PM, I heard four very loud and distinct gunshots emanate from the front of the building on Lyndale Avenue. I immediately ducked and covered and turned out my lights. Who’s to say a bomb wound’t be the next explosive? I listened intently, putting away the toothbrush that had been in my mouth. Not five minutes later I heard the distant screams of police sirens growing steadily louder. As my window does not face the front, I had to content myself with watching the lights from the cop cars bounce off the neighboring building. An hour and half later I went to sleep, feeling assured that this was not going to be a national story.