So here I am at 11 o'clock on a Friday night, and I'm home. I feel like an old man right now.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I have now lived in Minnesota for five years. There have been good moments, and there have been bad moments. Tonight, I would like to talk about the aspects of Minnesota life that I really like.
To begin with, there is Minnesota itself. This state is gorgeous. I remember when I came to visit Minnesota (for a job interview) with my wife, and we went for a walk near Lake Calhoun. At the time, we were living in Michigan near Fermi II (that was a hoot. I really think I saw Blinky, the three-eyed fish), and I remember that the air was terrible. When we were walking around Lake Calhoun, I turned to my wife and said, "Do you feel this air? It's so crisp. So good!" I admit it. The environment here in Minnesota is fantastic. I used to live in Missouri, and down there the Mississippi looks so brown and nasty. Here, though, the river looks so clear and vibrant. It's fantastic. With so many lakes and trees, the state feels like a midwestern version of Oregon (or maybe Oregon is the western equivalent of Minnesota). Either way, the environment here is breathtaking. Camping is awesome, and the wildlife appears healthy.
But what about the city aspects of life you ask? Well there's appeal there as well. First of all, the fact that "the essentials" (clothing and unprepared food) are not taxed means that shopping is actually cheaper here than in many other places. None of that, "what's 6.5% of $26.36," crap. Nope, what's on the register is the price, no questions asked. Beyond that, everything feels so affordable. Maybe that's because I'm used to New York, but the fact that Minnesota Wild tickets are more affordable than New York Rangers tickets (and you get a better, younger, and faster team to watch to boot). I went out to Esca in NY with my wife one night after a show. For what we paid there (which I will admit was worth it), we were able to go to Mission American Restaurant as well as a hockey game, and we could have bought tickets to a show at the Guthrie. Let's face it. This city, though the housing market is not necessarily there, is affordable.
Maybe, however, you don't want to cook. Maybe you want to go out. Almost every kind of restaurant choice is well represented here in Minnesota (the ones that I feel aren't I will talk about later). I have had some fantastic sushi at places like Sushi Tango. You want French? Try Vincent. Hell, I could go on and on with types and restaurants to fill that want. The point is that there are so many great places to eat and drink. There's a reason that the City Pages restaurant section is so large: because there are SO many good restaurants.
What else do I like? I like that there are walking paths and bike trails so readily available. I like the fact that Minnesotans actually care about education (I'm still waiting Missouri....). I like the fact that I'm far enough away from family that they can't visit all the time, but they can still visit. I like the fact that Minnesota is (or seems to be) trying to make Light Rail work. I miss the New York Subway system. Sure it smells, but it sure as hell works. I like the fact that Minnesota has a large homosexual population that isn't really persecuted. I can't say it's not persecuted, because I read small things here and there. I like the fact that there is a large and mostly well-to-do artistic population. Art, Theatre, and Music seem to thrive in Minnesota. Just like the restaurants, there are so many places that a person could go hear great music every night.
I like the fact that this state, though growing, feels like a place that no one really knows about. My father-in-law likes to call it, "Mini-No-Place." Many people who do not live here do. But for a third tier place, the Twin Cities (and surrounding areas) offer so much.
That's why I like it here. It's affordable (mostly) and with so much to do, it's hard to get bored. Unfortunately, there are many aspects that make me want to leave her (which may happen sooner or later). I will elaborate on that in Part III: The Bad.