Some of you have done It so many times that it’s lost the transformative aura of mystique. You still enjoy it, but with repetition diminishing the unadulterated novelty and almost illicit appeal, the idea of it no longer excites you. Many of us might want to do it more often but struggle to set aside the time or make the effort. Others still are indifferent, uninterested even – they naively think that friends, academics, athletics, and recreation are all we need to get by. Put simply: they don’t know what they’re missing.
I can make this bold claim about the latter group because until recently I was a member of Team Indifferent. In my then-not-quite-developed mind (it’s remarkable how fast one can mature), the Carleton College environs provided ample stimulation. Yet on October 13th, 2007, it happened to me – or rather I made it happen – and my life will never be the same.
If you take a second to regroup and get your mind out of the gutter and/or the latest issue of Cosmo (pick your vice), I will gladly clarify what I mean. After three and one-sixth years at Carleton, I finally did It. I went to the Cities.
I have never explored Minneapolis proper. I’ve been to the Mall of America twice, the airport many a time (both terminals, what up), The Walker Arts Center once, and the restaurant La Belle Vie once as well. Yet I hesitate even to count the last two venues as “being in” Minneapolis – traveling by car (and not sitting shotgun, map in hand) means I neither know where geographically the museum or restaurant are located nor can I place them in the context of this 380,000-strong, 59 sqaure-mile metropolitan area.
As usual, it is my roommate and best friend Saeyoon to whom I attribute my reversal of fortune. Like Aladdin and Jasmine on a magic carpet ride, minus the romantic subplot and with a magic Ford Focus from Enterprise in place of the carpet, Saeyoon opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. Taking me wonder by wonder, over sideways and under, we embarked together on an unforgettable Minneapolis extravaganza that commenced last Saturday around 11 p.m. at the juncture of 3rd Street South and First Avenue North.
Now I’m skipping ahead a little bit here, as there were some memorable moments, some mistakes made, and some lessons learned that require more than the allotted word count in this column. They boil down to an amazing night out on the town – really super fun and special – followed by a towed rental vehicle, followed by a failed attempt to guilt the police into giving us a free ride to the impound lot, followed by a friend whose generous loan allowed us to take a cab to the lot, followed by a chatty driver named Ali, followed by a failed attempt to cash a check at a local Western Union to pay the towing fines, followed by the necessity to ask friends for a ride back and retrieve the car on the following day instead. So yeah, good times were had by all. Although one of the lessons learned – don’t cut corners (aka use a garage instead of visitor-only parking on private property) – came with an expensive price tag, it was a critical lesson to grasp. Moreover, the car fiasco didn’t detract from my opinion that the trip to the Cities was unquestionably worth it.
There is something exhilarating about being out in the ‘real world’ mingling with the masses in a completely new and fast-paced environment. Aside from the annoying discovery that almost every street in downtown Minneapolis is one-way, the vitality and diversity of the city at night (when Day One of our two-day adventure began) reminded me fondly of my hometown, New York City. Carleton is no prison, but at times one does question the existence of Life On The Outside. It’s liberating to discover first-hand, beyond my rational understanding, that engaging activities, ideas, and people do persist and even thrive outside of the Carleton library, Sayles Hill, Allen House, or Northfield itself. Absorbing a few molecules of urban energy and in turn participating in the kinetics of the city served to change my self-inflicted perception that I should spend three ten-week increments in a Carleton Bubble. Instead, I want and can make time to navigate between the two worlds: I will continue to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities the Carleton institution and community offers, but I am now also mindful that there are other wonderful opportunities waiting for me just a few more miles and minutes away.
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