Saturday, January 30, 2010

from Minnesota

It is inevitable that when you get together with a friend who has tracked your life for nearly 30 years, you’ll find yourself reminiscing.

It’s funny that one of the first recollections that came to mind during this spin through the past was of a time not so long ago, when she and I were in Normandy and we sat down to a late lunch at a café. I coaxed her into joining me in a little pitcher of rosé wine. For some reason, one that I will never understand, the wine hit us solid. Even a strong espresso could not (immediately) undo the buzz.

We went for a walk on the beach and we took pictures, and in that walk was the comfortable pleasure of being with a friend who would listen to anything you told her.

And here’s another flash: some five years earlier, she and I found ourselves in Brittany. Always happy to join me on a romp to this place or another, she took the leap and flew down to be with me to this God forsaken village, where even the closest bread bakery was miles away.

After an evening of the usual wonderful food, we drive back to the village. I park the rental car and we sit there under green willows in the silence of a country evening in France and I tell her all the ways I had messed up my life. Ever the good person, she listens as if I were recounting the days of the week, nothing more than that and then she says – well, I can see why that would have been a problem.

The world should be full of people like her.

I thought about all this in the morning as Ed and I made our way from the Residence Inn in Edina Minnesaota to the next door and adjacent Edinburgh Park. In the Twin Cities, most everything is reached by glassed passageways. To me, it all seems slightly bizarre and unreal. But I understand the premise: it's bitter cold outside.


The park is an indoor park, and there are tots playing inside and grownups swimming laps at the lap pool and I choose to run laps, just to see if I still can. (I haven’t jogged since September 11, 2001 as a result of a combination of knee issues and other distractions from that day onwards.)

I do 51 laps and that’s equal to three miles, the sign tells me, and then I have to stop so that I can meet up with my friend, but in the 51 laps I spend a lot of time thinking and remembering.

In the early afternoon I take my texts and notes to a Starbucks and I try so very hard to make progress on work, but a little Minnesota girl distracts me no end and I imagine again what it is like to have a child that tumbles and scrambles all over.


My friend’s daughter was once a tumbler and scrambler. I remember an afternoon two dozen years ago, in England, when my own girl watched in amazement as my friend’s little girl scampered into places with ten years' worth of grime and soot. She came out grinning and I had to think that maybe grime and soot had their beneficial uses.

And now here we are – my friend, her daughter and I, moving through grown up spaces in Minneapolis, as if it had always been thus. As if life never catapulted us forward, as if we lived just around the corner and dropped in for a quick walk through, as if...



We spend a good 36 minutes at the museum (The Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota) and I know this because we had no more quarters for the meter beyond that. It is a wonderful 36 minutes.




After, I note again that in Minnesota, life stays green in unusual ways. I order a lunch of eggs and greens and I driznk a Pellegrino, thinking that this is not the time and place for a risky lunchtime rosé.


Finally it is evening. Her girl stirs up a wickedly good dinner and Ed opens up the rosé wine that I had purchased for my friend back in France.


And then the night moves us forward and it's time for us to head out. Tomorrow morning Ed and I will drive back to Madison.