Thursday, December 28, 2006

from Minneapolis: fifteen hours

So brief was my stay here! So brief, that I could pick up the return boarding pass as I was checking in to fly out. So brief, that after dinner with my wonderful St Paul friend, no minutes were left to reflect on the fact that I was in the Twin Cities.

I would have had those spare minutes had I remembered correctly where had booked a room for me. But, at midnight, I asked to be dropped off at the wrong hotel. Empty, with a sole wedding party attendee sleeping soundly on a leather couch, it reminded me of how quickly fullness drains into nothingness, how cities on this side of the ocean, so fast paced during working hours, slow down considerably at the close of the day.

december 06 223

I looked for my real hotel, found it finally at the other end of the city, chatted pleasantly to the night clerk about what brought me here for these few hours in the post-holiday world of low key travel, rode the elevator up up, to my room, to see a view that almost any city in America might offer the person who chooses to sleep in its commercial hub.

december 06 230

Normally, I love waking up in a new city. But waking up on a late December morning in Minneapolis gives you a view of the world that is remarkably similar to the one at midnight. It is dark at midnight, still so at six-thirty, seven-thirty…

By eight-thirty I am pacing the downtown streets. Nice buildings, clean buildings. And those passageways. Everyone has heard of the passageways of Minneapolis. Did I know each would be different? They are like the bridges of Minneapolis, the glass walkways, there to avoid the brutal winds and profusion of traffic below.

Except there are no brutal winds. It is a balmy 40 degrees. And the street is shut off to all but buses. And so the feeling again is of great emptiness. The party is elsewhere. You missed the beat. You are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

december 06 238

I turn back and eat a horrible breakfast at the Hyatt (included! It’s all included in my Minneapolis flight of fancy. Here I am, chasing fancy miles and fancy privileges in the city of northern lights). Chopped up melon and barely unfrozen pastries, served in a dining room that is, well, empty.

No people watching. No matter. In Minneapolis, you make do with building watching.

december 06 243

I take the bus to the airport and catch my flight home, in time for lunch with my family. Fifteen hours from take-off to return landing.

I saw Minneapolis in a terrifically unique light (or lack thereof). Beautiful, all of it.