I’m sitting on the marble windowsill of The Hotel Minneapolis, which is slightly slanted, face in the shade, feet in the sun, which is hot and reflects on my silver flip flops like the flash of a knife. I’m sitting sweating, and I’m hoping the people behind this window can see me less than I can see them. In front of me is the clear bus stop partition. I am waiting for the bus to take me home.
Minneapolis is all metal shine and blue sky and women wearing black bags. It is August, that month when concrete bakes and grass shimmers hazily hot. This is downtown: planters spilling with pink petunias, green bikes on their rack to rent, a sense of energy and height and heat all in one.
This morning I was in St. Paul, and every Monday and Wednesday this summer I’ve packed a lunch box like a school girl and commuted to the city. Many mornings I drove, but others I sat on a bus that brought me to the Twin Cities themselves, first the big twin, where it left me standing in the warm 8 AM brightness until another bus snaked me down University Avenue to St. Paul. The little twin.
It’s funny, riding the bus, because you feel like an orphan once you get where you’re going, especially on days like today, when the clock said 12:30 and Sophie said, “you can leave now.” I usually stay till 3. You can’t take a bus to Maple Grove before 3:16, anyways. Today I walked out of the building and realized Sophie gave me a gift – the chance to linger and wander. All summer I’ve wanted this. All summer I’ve left St. Paul wishing for more time to get to know the little twin, but hurried by the bus schedule or rush hour or a shift at the country club.
Today I got to linger, and what a treat it was to walk down Wabasha past the farmer’s market, the Snoopy statues, Macy’s, all the way to the Mississippi and see, now THAT’S what the city’s been hiding . It was like finally throwing open the curtains on a dark room.
To let my sandals lead me into Ruam Mit Thai for Thai tea with a floating orange slice and spring rolls. To finish Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, a book that asks for space, the little Thai waiter-man giving it, smiling and nodding and staying, graciously, out of the way. The peace of it all, to finish a book, uninterrupted. Unhurried.
And to stroll down Minnesota Street to wait for the bus again, feeling new, not just an intern leaving a desk in a city, but a woman leaving a dear friend. An explorer leaving a place explored. A memory.
Thank you, Sophie, for that gift, for the chance to meet the sweet little twin before summer and my internship ended and before I had to say goodbye.