Stranger in a stranger city

Pigs at the trough, a photo which has nothing to do with this entry but which I chose nonetheless

Pigs at the trough, a photo which has nothing to do with this entry but which I chose nonetheless

Despite having lived in Minneapolis for over twenty years, I still can’t get used to the skyways. For those of you who’ve never been here, the skyway system is a many-miles-long pedestrian walkway which weaves throughout virtually all the downtown buildings.

On the second floor.

Windowed bridge-tunnels crisscross above your head on every downtown street, all of them filled with briskly walking pedestrians, businesspeople for the most part, on their way to and from business meetings, business lunches, business transactions, everything business-related.

Yes, as you have guessed, the business world is one which, in its unfamiliarity to my daily routine of hunching over a laptop in an ergonomically incorrect manner, I find intimidating. And if you just waded through that sentence and understood it, I bow before thee.

So anyway, I found myself downtown yesterday. Downtown Minneapolis, as opposed to Uptown Minneapolis, which is where I live. Both Minneapolis, but vastly different parts thereof. I went downtown with the sole purpose of purchasing a new sim card at the AT&T store at 7th and Marquette. I parked at a meter one block away and set out to find my store. It was brisk and windy and the streets were virtually deserted. This, in the middle of the day, in a major metropolitan city.

Why are the streets always so . . . empty?

That was the question I actually asked myself, forgetting, as I have forgotten for over twenty years, the reason why in downtown Minneapolis, there is no street life.

Anyway. I found the Investors Building, in which my AT&T store was supposed to be located, and in I went. Empty as well. Deserted, just me, there in the lobby of a large, downtown, marble-floored building. Why, oh why, so few people?

“Are you lost?”

This from a genial-looking suit-clad businessman who appeared from behind a column. Ah! Humanity!

“Indeed I am. I’m looking for the AT&T store.”

“Right up there,” said the genial-looking suit-clad businessman, who was at least four inches shorter than me, but one of those marvelous men who don’t have a short-man complex. He pointed up the staircase.

Of course.

There it was, the life that I had been looking for ever since I parked at that meter. The life that I have been looking for in downtown Minneapolis ever since I moved here.

Why can I not remember that in downtown Minneapolis, all life happens on the second floor? Honestly, what the hell is wrong with me?

There above me, on the second floor, as always, were the throngs of business-clothes-wearing businesspeople, chatting with each other, chatting on their cell phones, heels (that would be clicking on polished marble floors were there any, but there aren’t, because the skyway system is nearly all carpet), briskly making their way to and from, here and there, onward and upward. Lights, stores, restaurants, commerce, the hum of human discourse, all taking place indoors, everyone breathing indoor air. Sort of like living inside a television.

“Thank you so much, sir!” I said to the genial-looking businessman.

Into the AT&T store I went. Sim card in hand, I headed straight back to Uptown, where the restaurants and movie theaters and bookstores are all on the ground level, and all the sidewalks are filled with grownups and children and dogs and all manner of life, lived out loud and outdoors.