I’m going to type this here on my blog, in the hopes that I STOP telling this boring non-story to people I end up talking to in Minneapolis.
When I was a kid, my family moved from 35th and Pillsbury to 33rd & 34th. If you know south Minneapolis, that might mean something to you, and if you don’t, well, just know that we moved from one neighborhood to another — crossing two neighborhoods into a slightly more affluent one while we were at it.
So in 7th grade I learned, not only to use the city bus system, but to not mind transferring at an ugly intersection. Dad drove me to school, and I took the 18 to Lake St, 21 home. That didn’t even go on very long; it was a stopgap measure while I finished the semester at one school before moving to a trimester at a new one.*
The point is, a couple years later, my friend Lori got me a job at Jubilee foods, 50-something and Chicago (Kowalski’s now?). So I was 15, and after school I went to work, and after work I took the bus home. I took the 5 and transferred at Lake St. At 9 or 10 pm. Until Dad found out my bus route, and then that was a problem, because back in the day** Chicago and Lake was, um, a little rough.
YET again… if you’re familiar with Minneapolis, you know this.*** The thing is, the fine city has worked very hard on gentrification at that particular spot. The giant department store has been rehabbed into condos and a great place to buy Oaxaca-style tacos or falafel. It still feels the same, because I never felt scared there in the first place, and Uncle Hugo’s is still around, and I bet I could still find an old lady garage sale with ’60s gay porn novels under the shoe box full of doilies, but also one doesn’t feel even a little at risk of getting caught in the cross-fire of a drug dealer and a passing K car.
It only feels a little strange to pass by these parts of home. Gentrification shifts the problems elsewhere.**** It can be an ugly concept. For me, though, so long as I stay the fuck away from Uptown, this city feels alive. It has changed in the last ten years, but mostly in ways that improve it.
I love it here.
* Chiron Middle School, behind the Basilica on Hennepin, if you’re interested, and no, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist anymore.
** I’m 32, so please adjust “the day” accordingly relative to your own, thanks.
*** If you’re not, just trust me, but if you’re from, like, NYC, London, or LA, or whatever, no, it wasn’t *that* bad, and I’m admitting it here so you won’t feel obliged to one-up me on childhood-bus-stops-that-put-us-at-risk-of-violence.
**** Today (literally today) you’d get a good sense of where the problems get shifted to by driving around and taking note of where trees from last weekend’s storms are still crashed across streets. HINT: NOT NEAR EDINA.