Contemplating dumpsters outside my bedroom window. Hearing starlings squawking upon a giant oak. Setting up house in a Minneapolis apartment reminds me of fifty years ago on 1010 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge.
The ups and downs of life’s surprises. Drinking coffee in the quiet of my bedroom. Alone. Fine by me.
Outside I walk one block to Hennepin Avenue where poverty-stricken women with orange hair, wearing too tight spandex, carrying plastic bags of belongings, stand on street corners. One block farther across 25th Street, houses turn into mansions as they sidle closer to Lake of the Isles.
It’s nearly three miles around this peaceful lake. Willow trees display their graceful branches. Lily pads dot the algae-covered water’s edge. Runners, young mothers pushing strollers, old men on missions, and helmeted four year olds on their first bikes cheerfully pass me.
Life opens up whenever I’m in nature. Like the other day: sitting on a bench, munching on almonds, taking in all the lush green. I put my phone down beside me. Never to be seen again.
A perfect storm of bad luck ensued. Wifi wouldn’t be set up in my apartment till the next morning so I couldn’t find my phone via my laptop. Circumnavigating the lake another three times didn’t help.
That night sleep didn’t come easily. At 6 a.m. the next morning I drove to a Dunn Brothers coffee shop to access their wifi. A few old “bros” sat around nursing their lack of sleep. One younger man stared at me perversely.
Ick. What am I doing here? In the Midwest. In the big city.
Sipping on my Columbian dark roast I filed a police report. One comrade lake circumnavigator had said, “Phones do get returned if the finder is nice and not an asshole.”
I believe that most humans are nice (although too many voters are idiots). I lost my phone. My catalytic converter was stolen from my Prius the first week I arrived in Minneapolis. Last week I was dismissed from my part-time job for being a techno-peasant at a children’s bookstore.
Those misfortunes dissipate with my grandchildren’s smiles, which is the primary reason I moved here.
And the restaurants: Colita. Cafe Ena. Hai Hai. Book Club. French Meadow.
Culture: Minneapolis Institute of Art. Russian Museum. Walker Art Center. Next weekend my first play, an avant garden portrayal of Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors.”
As I arrange the art in my apartment, nagging questions pop into my head. Art soothes. Ashley Bryan’s poster for “Sheila of OZ, with love.” Photos of my children and grandchildren at different ages and stages. A colorful wool piece and tiny yurts from Kyrgyzstan. Barbara Cooney’s “Hattie and the Wild Waves” poster signed, “For OZ with great affection.” My sister-in-law’s lovely watercolor seascape given to me on my 60th birthday.
Flashes of my well-lived life: sitting in Barbara’s Damariscotta garden among the indigo Delphinia.
“You know Sheila, you must have quiet times to bring on creativity,” she told me, sipping tea from a delicate china cup. I recall her feistiness with a howling baby at her first presentation of “Miss Rumphius.”
“It doesn’t bother me, it’s not my baby,” said the white-haired artist with the sparkling blue eyes. Later, chatting at her room in the Claremont, “Sheila, will you get me a scotch?”