Friday, January 29, 2010

north and west

Like a child plucked out of a life of hardship and thrown into unknown riches, Ed investigates all that the suite offers. He doesn’t need nor want any of it, but he is delighted that $70 per night buys all this and breakfast too.

The man loves a good deal.

It has been a crazy ride up north, and I say crazy with a smirk, because the last time we drove north to St Paul Minnesota was exactly a year ago. It was the coldest day of the year then and it is the coldest day of the year today. It's as if I want another chance at frostbite.

We leave Madison after my class ends. Late afternoon. We're not two minutes into the trip when I ask that we stop. Coffee, okay?

Ridiculous, but no more so than when Ed speaks up. Custard?


She looks intimidated, I know. Something about Ed's height, or my camera, or maybe the way we banter about whether it should be a dish or a cone...

It’s about a five hour trip from Madison to St Paul. We fall into our usual routine: I start out driving. I get sleepy. Ed takes over. Which completely jolts me into wakefulness, as I feel I really have to keep an eye on the road, now that I am not driving.

The sun sets, the old snow glows, the trees throw shadows. The moon is out. Beautiful and perfect.


It's precisely at these moments of deep appreciation for the small details that you look up and notice police lights flashing.

You know why? – the officer asks us.
Clueless, I want to say.
When I stand in my car at the side of the road with lights flashing, the law says you, driving by, must move into the left lane.

It’s been a while since someone authoritatively glared down and told me what “the law says.” As always, it makes me cower. I want to say "yes sir." I want neither Ed nor I to go to jail. I remember why driving is frightening. Why I want fast speed train service to replace all highway traffic in the Midwest.

Though truthfully, not Ed, nor I knew this rule of the road. The officer didn’t believe our ignorance, I know, even as it is completely genuine. I did not explain to him that I am a mere immigrant and that Ed never really took a driver’s test (it’s a long story having to do with motorcycles).

$267 next time. A warning this time.

What does a warning mean? I ask Ed.
It means you get to drive away.
How lucky is that...

We arrive at my friend’s place in St Paul and it is as it always is – warm and wonderful, made even more wonderful by the presence of her daughter. It is one of those evenings when you want to jot down the details... Because surely this is better than evenings of putting down a dense text, reaching for Kashi's frozen Mayan bake and telling yourself -- they say on the box this is dinner.

Late, very late, we pull into the super discounted Residence Inn in Edina, where men wear sweats in the elevator so they can pick up their food orders at the front desk, where Ed does his delighted dance at the idea that we should have both a fridge, an oven and a dishwasher during our stay here. As if we’ll ever dirty a single plate this week-end. Still, $70 and clean dishes too. Amazing.