Posts Tagged ‘Sally Tombers’

Letter From New York via Minnesota, one more time 07 27 2016

July 27, 2016

I am seated in the Red Carpet Club at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Lindberg Terminal.  Lindberg, if you recall, was born in Michigan but spent his childhood in Little Falls, Minnesota.  His father was a Minnesota Congressman and the state has adopted him as if he were a native son. 

While not a member of the Red Carpet Club, I am a member of Amtrak’s Acela Club which gives me privileges at the Red Carpet Club. 

Outside the wall of windows, the day is grey and threatening rain.  My brother dropped me at the airport on his way to meetings in St. Paul and I have about an hour and a half before I board my flight back to New York.

It’s comfortable and quiet, just as this visit has been. 

In the course of my time here, I have done the usual things of seeing my family and friends. 

I went to the nursing home where my oldest friend, Sarah, has an aunt in the memory care unit.  I went twice, bringing her flowers both times.  She is 96, I think, though she identifies as being 102 or 103.  Her sister, Eileen, and Eileen’s husband, John, have been gone a number of years and as I left Aunt MeMe, she asked me to say hello to them when I got back to New York.  “If ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise,” from a poem by Thomas Grey seems apt here.  I did not remind MeMe that they are gone.  Let her live in the warmth of their presence inside her.

Yesterday, I went to the grave of my parents, unsure if I could find them.  The great tree that marked my father’s grave and which my mother and I used as a marker when we visited is now long gone but I did find their graves, surprising and pleasing myself.

Standing there, I wished all of us could have done better; me as a child to their parents and they as parents to the child I was.  We didn’t have an easy time of it. 

When I was young, one of the greatest childhood treats I could have was the popcorn at the Pavilion at Lake Harriet, its beaches my summertime playground. So I went there, looking to see if the popcorn was as good as it had been, though my nieces warned me it was not the popcorn of old.  There was no chance to make a decision; the popcorn machines were not working my last day in town.

Three was time with my brother, Joe, and his wife Deb, my other sister-in-law, Sally, who was Joe’s first wife, their two daughters, my nieces Kristin and Resa, a wine with Resa’s son, Emile.  Kristin runs Clancy’s Meats in Linden Hills and is, I think, the most famous butcher in the Twin Cities. We had a couple of dinners, loud with laughter and a couple of breakfasts with Sally, full of warm chatter.

It was family time, for the most part.  A good thing as family is centering as our wild world whirls around us. 

As I wait in the comfort of the Red Carpet Club, CNN is on the background.  Trump is speaking and the sound is so soft I cannot hear what he is saying. The banners in the lower third says he is all for getting along with Russia and that it’s “far fetched” that Russia is trying to help him.

Russians are believed to have hacked the DNC servers and then turned a treasure trove of nasty emails within the DNC over to Wikileaks who did what they do, leaked them to the press.  The exposure demonstrated the contempt of some for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.  The most notable head to roll is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who had been head of the DNC.  Didn’t even get to open the convention she had planned.

The Democratic Convention got off to a rocky start but a burningly intense Bernie Sanders did much to pull the party together as did a rousing speech from Senator Cory Booker [best moment so far, to me] and a brilliant address by former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright and several 9/11 survivors.

As my brother dropped me at the airport today, we discussed how much but how little time was left between now and the elections.  I sighed and said:  we’ll see more mud slung in this time than we have seen in our lives.

Letter From New York 10 12 15 You can’t go home again, even if it’s nice…

October 13, 2015

It is 7:30 PM and it is dark already. I’m headed north on the 7:15 Amtrak out of Penn towards home after two weeks of wandering. Baltimore followed by Indianapolis followed by Minneapolis and now home. I made a stop in New York and listened as Howard Bloom recorded his podcast, “Howard Bloom Saves the Universe.” Look him up in your iTunes store. He’s very good, very funny and very wise.

Having not had very much to eat today, as in almost nothing, I stopped and got some California Roll from Penn Sushi and ate it while waiting for the train to start its journey north, which it has. I would love to be able to watch the river but it’s too dark, the river is hidden.

Minneapolis is a lovely town. There are an infinite number of things to do in the city of my birth. Often I have described my youth as being what it must have been like to grow up in one of the great provincial capitals of Europe. It has the Minnesota Orchestra, back to making music after a crippling strike. The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, the Walker, the Guthrie, an amazing theatre scene. One Uber driver said to me that in Minneapolis/St. Paul you found a college on almost every corner. Which is almost true.

The city is freshly spruced. Every building looked like it had just been splashed with a fresh coat of paint. Everything was sparkling clean and looked like the glistening city of the future. Unemployment is low and the city is prospering.

But I sampled none of the intellectual delights of my hometown. I spent all my time visiting with people, my friends and family, people that have been important to me over the years.

When I taught high school there I became close to one of the families involved with the school, the Elsens. I spent an afternoon with them at a restaurant. Don is 88 and his force of nature wife, Betty, has been dead now almost ten years. Julie was there as was her cousin Brenda. After Don and Julie left, Brenda stayed to chat with me. She wanted to let me know that I was the only teacher she had in her life she felt “saw” her. I was humbled.

There were long mornings of coffee with my brother and sister-in-law, Deb, and a long and lovely lunch with my ex sister-in-law, Sally, with whom I laughed and cried.

I have deep roots in Minneapolis though one morning, driving to some get together, I also realized that the old phrase, “ You can’t go home again,” is true. I have roots but I no longer belong there.

All was familiar but I am no longer a citizen of that place; I am a citizen, for now, of Columbia County, where I have lived for, for me, a long time. And now I am on the train, headed back to the little cottage by the creek, looking forward to being in that space, surrounded by my things, to be able in the morning to sit on the deck while having coffee and to think about the future and not the past.