Thursday, August 2, 2007

Leaving Minnesota

My sister Kirsten lives in the suburbs in St. Paul. Sprinklers, kids on bikes, dogs being walked, the nightly rounds of an icecream truck; pretty much everything but the white picket fences.
She lives with her boyfriend Chris in a beautiful duplex, and the two of them seem very happy, which makes me happy, because it's nice knowing my sister is happy.

But you may have guessed that middle class suburbia isn't exactly what I'm striving for, at least not at this stage of my life, and so it was also nice to put the Twin Cities behind me and get back to the open road after a five day intermission.

Not a moment too soon.

I got a text message from my friend Paul while driving through Wisconsin: "You and Black Betty ok?"

"Yeah, why?"

I had not yet heard about the I-35 bridge. I had missed it by only a few hours. I would not discover the horrible details until I reached Milwaukee that night, and so I drove on, my mind only occupied by the road.

I see a tractor trailer that doubles as a moving billboard for McDonalds. Over a picture of a Big Mac are the words "Merge at Quality and Taste." Those aren't exactly the first words that come to mind when I think of McDonalds, but hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.

I pass a billboard with a picture of a baby over the caption: "I had fingerprints seven months before I was born." There are a suprising number of similar billboards across the Plains and the Midwest.

I see signs for cheese everywhere. The classic rock radio station I'm listening to is called 92.9 the Big Cheese.

I pull off of I-94 and have dinner at an A&W stand while watching the semis roll by.

Back on the road, the Big Cheese starts playing "Free Falling" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The wind roars past my window. The asphalt sails underneath. I have myself a regular Jerry Maguire moment and think, not for the first time, "I could do this forever."


48statebus said...

Glad you're alright and missed the bridge collapse, it's kind of strange that the first thing I thought when I saw the news was that "scott's in Minn."

...never met you before but I was worried for a while. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip

Anonymous said...

Another good post. I hope some newspaper editor will realize the quality of your blog and allow you to write up a column. - Will in London

Kirsten said...

Scott, you did make it out of town just in time. I'm still in shock here over the collapse of a bridge in the middle of the city. I've gotten calls and e-mails from friends around the world, so it's unbelievable how quickly and broadly news has traveled.

I know my current St. Paul neighborhood is decidely too quiet for you, but just to clarify for your readers, lest they misunderstood your blog and think I live in a suburb of St. Paul, when, in fact, I live right in the city. I hear suburb and I think cookie-cutter housing, cul-de-sacs and a car-centered culture where your kids never learn to ride a bike, because you're shuttling them everywhere by car. God forbid I'd ever live there.

St. Paul has always had the more "wholesome" image of the two and Midwestern cities are less dense than their East Coast counterparts, so there's less hustle and bustle. But I'm in walking or biking distance of most places, including downtown St. Paul, and stores and nightlife.

Scotticus said...

Thanks for the concern, 48statebus. And yes, Kirsten, I suppose there are varying degrees of suburbia. At least you don't live in cookie cutter houses with no trees where the only the only thing the kids do for fun is hang out at the 7-11. Like in "subUrbia" by Eric Bogosian.