I told my ex-husband this story once at the end of our marriage and he was shocked. It was strange because I’ve always been a bit too upfront about all the people I’ve been in my life. I told him about a night I went clubbing at seventeen in Minneapolis. We drove up from Iowa, went to a friend’s house, raided her closet, and went to a club where she worked. The shocking part for him was that I wore a mesh dress with a thong bikini and goth boots. You’e only seventeen once and when your friends tell you look good, you trust them.
Later in life, Minneapolis is the city where I learned radical can be daily life. My favorite feminist and anti-war groups come from here. One of the most memorable punk shows I ever saw was a band out of St. Paul. I don’t remember the band because it was a basement show and I don’t even think I ever saw the flyer. Honestly, I’m terrible with proper nouns. I am saying I have a particular affection for this city, even if I can’t remember the names of anything.
The city has changed in the years since I moved away and it’s mostly impressive. My friend in town lives by Minnehaha and I dragged him to walk around the falls a few times while I was in town. There were bands at Sea Salt both times and I got to watch a few couples waltz.
In exchange, he dragged me to the Riverview Theater, which reminded me of my grandmother’s house. When she was alive, she had a goldenrod house in Coon Rapids, IA with a hallway of bedrooms and an unfinished basement that included a toilet. I don’t remember if it was working, but I have a lot of male cousins who probably know. The theater was filled with older women and a handful of thirty somethings, so there’s a chance that added to the nostalgia. We saw RBG and I had a steady wet spot on my cheek for most of it.
Our second night we saw Records Collecting Dust 2 at the Trylon. It may be the nerdiest thing I do this entire trip. Have you ever wondered exactly how many people have the original printing of Minor Threat’s Out of Step and what it’s worth? If you’re like me and you have not, this movie will make you want to know. I didn’t check, but my friend did and was shocked by the value. I’m not looking it up now. Anyway, the theater was a quaint art theater filled with older punk rockers who weren’t headed to Chicago for the weekend. Both of us felt right at home and that’s pretty rare.
We also ate at Al’s and Dominguez. I nearly bought a shirt at Al’s because I love greasy breakfast and counter service. There are so many ways I’ve become my grandfather and my father and most of them involve greasy breakfast and bratwurst. It’s odd because I don’t normally like most meats, but it’s still a valid statement.
What is it about nostalgia that holds our attention? I took Amtrak to get to Minneapolis and it was filled with people worrying about their houses on the southern section of the east coast with the hurricane approaching. Even as they used smart phones to check their connections and what their neighbors were doing to protect houses, they were also commenting on the history of the rails as we rode past markers — In 1880, a train derailed here; that was the original train station; this was the end of this railroad company line and these sections were only connected when Amtrak nationalized train service.
A professional photographer from Paris was on the train. He was young and interested in the history of the countryside. When I talked to him, we passed the continental divide and we discussed how much can change when we cross lines/signs marking boundaries, regardless of any geographical significance. After hearing what everyone was saying to me, I can only imagine what they were saying to him.