Saturday morning, walking around south Minneapolis, a neighborhood where – back in my youth – when your elders start neglecting their lawn, you might move them out of the bungalow and plant them here in a one-BR apt until they can no longer climb stairs and then there’d be a family meeting. Shoot them? Or plunk them in the nursing home? And off to Happy Acres they go, worn out since elliptical machines didn’t exist back then and there were no trainers except animal trainers.
And now it’s a neighborhood of 21-year-olds, as you can see from the corner grocery, which is all bags of snacks and soda pop and frozen pizzas. Youth can survive on silage, if necessary. Young women walk their dogs at 8am and a man sleeps on a bus stop bench, a suitcase beside him. The apartment buildings all post For Rent signs. Some offer deals, some have roommates waiting.
I walk around, awestruck at the courage of the young. You come to the city from Aitkin or Brainerd or Cottonwood and either you get a job waiting on tables and maybe salt away some dough or you go to school and rack up piles of debt, or maybe you do both and work 15-hour days and all in hopes of making a good life, whatever that might mean in your case.
I worked in a scullery near here when I was 18, the summer before college, working the dishwasher at a hotel, and since I planned to be a writer, I walked around Loring Park on my break, thinking profound thoughts, practising smoking Pall Malls, exhaling in an artistic manner. I was raised fundamentalist and left home to go to the U in September, where I made Jewish friends and saw ballet and smoked in class and listened to long-haired radicals orate on the Mall and wrote incomprehensible poetry and had a big time.