Taking advantage of the free passes sponsored by Macy's and provided through the library, my family and I visited the Alexander Ramsey (first governor of the MN territory) house, built in 1872 and containing most of the family's original furnishings. I've never been there before, but I am properly obsessed with historical homes, so I couldn't have come up with a better destination. My favorite part of the house is the third-floor nursery, a rather barren-looking but spacious attic loft filled with games and toys and one gorgeous dollhouse. However, I think my pupils actually dilated to the size of saucers every time we passed a shelf full of old books. I very much wanted to pause the tour and at least read all the titles, if I was forbidden to actually look through them. Because...*purrs* Old books are so very, very lovely.
After the Ramsey house, we walked around the surrounding blocks and oohed and ahhed over the much smaller but still impressive Victorian-style houses. (I've decided that if I win the lottery, I want to live in a house with a cupola.), and then we drove through through some other neighborhoods so Dad could point out the house he rented in the early 70's. Alas, it was in the middle of getting new siding, so it was a bit hard to get a feel for what it really looked like, but I never turn down an opportunity to hear my parents talk about their young adulthood. I hear all about when they were kids, and in high school (and college, in Mom's case), but the 12-15 years before I was born are sort of lost time, so I relish every story.
And as much fun as the destinations are, driving into the city is a highlight all on its own. Dad used to rent a studio in downtown Minneapolis out of which he ran a picture-framing business, and I used to go to work with him sometimes in the summer or days off of school, but since he closed that down in 2000 I've only been to the cities a handful of times, mostly on class field trips. Every time I go - and this holds true for all cities, anywhere - I feel a little like Alice in Wonderland, staring wide-eyed at everything. The urban setting is all so different - towering buildings, narrow streets full of parking meters, landscaped parks that look like they were dropped in out of a sim computer game instead of just being expanses of undeveloped land. Unique, odd little businesses crammed into a solid expanse of building, restaurants of every imaginable type, more diversity in two blocks than I see in a week at school or a month at home. It's enchanting in a way that's hard to explain, even the run-down bits. And it still fascinates me that a few blocks from the hubbub, you'll still find houses with yards, admittedly much closer together than in a proper suburb, but at least lacking any horrid Monopoly house developments.
Sometimes I wonder where my first apartment is going to be; while I've always assumed I'd do my best to find a suburban location, I wonder what it would be like to live here day-in and day-out. That thought quickly fades away; it's impossible. It would be like living in a foreign country where you didn't speak the language. I wouldn't want to live here, really, because I expect all the magic would quickly be gone and I'd be hard-pressed to get it back after that. It's more fun to know that there's this fascinating place less than half an hour's drive away.
And that's why I tell people that "travel" has never been one of my interests. I have no desire to fly around the world, or even across the country. What's the point of seeing the Eiffel Tower in person when you can just look at a picture? Why go all the way to London to find unique little sites when they're right in your own backyard? I feel like it would take me years to explore everything in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and driving around neighborhoods in other towns is as fulfilling as getting on a tour bus somewhere, maybe even more interesting. It would take me a lifetime to see everything in Minnesota, never mind anywhere else.