Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Old Neighborhood Vs. My New One - Part II

Today's image is a 747 passing over my old neighborhood last summer. Anything else that took off or landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport passed over the house at a higher altitude, but the jumbos obviously needed quite a bit more room to get airborne. Regardless of the altitude, those of you who have had the opportunity to talk to me on the phone when I was out in the yard at the old house can attest to the fact that conversations had to pause about every 90 seconds during busy times at the airport.

Picking up where we left off yesterday...

I had located an affordable apartment in the MUCH better Linden Hills neighborhood (Western New Yorkers... think Bidwell Parkway), but it wouldn't be available until two weeks after I had to vacate the Windom house.

Not having built a network of friends in Minneapolis, I was looking at spending that two weeks on the street if I took the Linden Hills apartment, so I reluctantly moved that one to the back burner, and returned to craigslist.

After searching for a few minutes, I came across this:

"Kingfield near Uptown, one-bedroom, fenced back and side yards, large deck, dogs and cats okay, all utilities plus cable and internet included $750/month"

The photograph showed an approximately 4000 sq. ft. well-kept house that had been divided into a three-level triplex with one apartment on each level.

I looked at the address... it was located at 40th St. and Grand Avenue. The Kingfield neighborhood was an area I had been discouraged from looking at during my original housing search the previous year. I had been led to believe that anything north of 45th street was bad neighborhoods all the way to downtown. A look at a map of Minneapolis the previous year showed a "Martin Luther King Park" one block south and three blocks east of the location of the property in the ad.

Those of you who live in Western New York are well aware of the battlefield conditions in the neighborhood surrounding Martin Luther King Park in Buffalo.

Those of you who live in any other major metropolitan area are well aware of the battlefield conditions that surround a Martin Luther King Park in any city.

For this additional reason, and sight unseen, the Kingfield neighborhood was never even remotely considered during my initial search... Plus, "Kingfield" sounded a little too much like "Kenfield", as in Buffalo's notorious Kenfield-Langfield housing projects... in my paramedic days the gang members used to take potshots at ambulances passing through those particular subsidized housing projects.

Well... the house looks okay, so I might as well look at the neighborhood anyway.

I opened up my trusty Google Maps, entered the address and clicked on "Street View".

I twirled the photograph and saw clean yards and well kept houses all around.

I clicked to go north on Grand Avenue, and saw nice homes, clean yards...

Is that a restaurant?

It was. One that I had heard of in fact, and planned on trying, but hadn't gotten around to yet.

Half a block farther north was another restaurant that I had heard good things about (specializing in Cuban food) but hadn't had the chance to try yet.


A bakery and coffeeshop...

This might be what I've been looking for all along.

I continued to click north another three blocks before I saw my first indications of anything remotely resembling ghetto, and it was the west side of Buffalo kind of ghetto... nothing to really worry about. I realized that the Uptown neighborhood started four blocks west of the intersection I was looking at... Western New Yorkers, compare Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood to Buffalo's Allentown neighborhood, but without the 100+ year old houses and more galleries, shops and restaurants.

I returned to the original address. Three-quarters of a mile due west were Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun... an easy walk for the dogs and I...

I decided to look south on Grand Avenue.


More nice houses.


Another coffee shop. This one only two blocks south of my front door!




More houses...

Four clicks later, I was looking at the intersection of Grand Avenue and 46th street... Which I noticed to my delight had not one but two more restaurants... both of which were already on my list of places to try. Best of all, one was a combination restaurant/wine bar/coffee shop!

Two blocks farther south was a park, a library, a gallery, and a bike shop.

I've seen more than enough, and fired off an e-mail to the landlord. He called me back that evening and arranged a showing for the following Saturday.

I found the place easily, and knocked on the door. The landlord was a youngish guy (29 I found out later), and owned the house with a couple of friends. He was the only one who actually lived on the property. He started showing me around, and with every step I took, I liked what I saw. He handed me a rental application, said it was just a formality to make sure I wasn't a sex offender or serial killer, and I wrote him a check the following week.

I was a little nervous. After all I had experienced some upheaval, and my original reason for being here had crashed in flames.

For the first time in a LONG time I was in a situation where I was alone, and didn't really have a plan.

After a year in Minnesota, I was going to have the chance to see what Minneapolis had to offer me, and I was going to be able to do it on my own terms.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little scared by the situation. What little support system I had is long gone... no one to fall back on here except me.

Although I DO realize that the "support" I had here wasn't really support. I was basically a component in someone else's plan, and once I had outlived my usefulness, I was quickly and easily discarded... sort of like tossing out a memory card or flash drive you've used for a few years that no longer serves your purposes, because there are what appear to be better flash drives and memory cards available.

From another of my past jobs as an IT guy I learned something from someone much older and wiser than me: Never throw away your old hardware because you think it's not compatible with your new system. Someone will always be willing to take that old hardware and find a place for it to serve a purpose... especially when it still works.

I'm back.

Got my old purpose and sense of self-worth back too.

Turns out I hitched my wagon to the wrong star, but that's okay. I adapt to new challenges quickly.

Like Tupac said: "You either ride with us, or collide with us."

Next: A Dog's Life In The Twin Cities


  1. Wow, I've read these past three entries and I can't wait to read more. You're a fantastic writer. Keep it coming.

  2. I agree. You are a great writer. Missed your calling, if you ask me.