Vera’s death was just last December, and I am missing her on this May evening, as our forty-third anniversary approaches. I need time and space by myself, to think. A view of the Mississippi River twisting and turning sharply, as I am right now, would set the tone. A drink and something good to eat would be nice—a martini, a very good steak, a favorite after-dinner drink.
It isn’t as far from Saint Paul to Nepal as you might think it is. This was all brought home to me several years ago, in the men’s room of O’Gara’s Bar and Grill on Snelling Avenue in Saint Paul, where I experienced an epiphany while gazing up at its fourteen-foot-high walls, and saw there evidenced a feat of heroic proportions—surely on a par, for ordinary men, that is, with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in their conquest of Mount Everest.
Saint Paul, Minnesota: Everyone’s heard the tale of how it was built by drunken Irishmen who are responsible for the nonsensical layout of winding streets. Congruently, everyone who lives or has ever lived in Saint Paul knows that the one thing this city will never be without is its abundance of Irish pubs.
Have you ever been to Mickey’s Diner? Well, I have. The first time was about four or five years ago. But I remember it clear as day. It looked like a house trailer. When we got there, I was amazed by how small but cool it was. I went inside, and everyone was nice, joyful, polite, and seemed like they were always in a great mood. We got a booth by the window.
"My favorite place in Saint Paul is Lady Elegant’s Tea Room. Lady Elegant’s Tea Room is special to me because that’s where I had my first cup of tea." It’s fun to go there because in the back of the room is a wall lined with hooks. On each hook is a different hat. One hat in particular is special to me. That hat is red velvet with a fingertip veil in the front and three red bows on top of each other on the side. I wear it every time I have tea there with my mom, and it’s my favorite.
My husband and I have a favorite restaurant, Pazzaluna, in downtown Saint Paul. The Italian eatery has happy-hour pizza and wine specials that keep us coming back. Even better, its energy is so good that a bad mood can be lifted just by walking in the door. Last week, I realized the source of the good vibes. As they say in real estate: location, location, location. Pazzaluna is located in the same place once occupied by Frank Murphy, a women’s clothing store.
Whether you are a native Saint Paulite or a transplant, chances are you have a favorite bartender. Saint Paul is arguably short on some things, but people: when it comes to bars, you can take your pick. From the highest order, with oak and marble features, to scratch-off parlors in old working-class neighborhoods, there is a crowd and atmosphere to suit your taste.
The Turf Club is an historic landmark in the Twin Cities music world. One might wonder how this club set in the Midway—the land between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul—amongst porn and pawn shops, liquor stores and Ax Man, maintains a name at all. This is not the hubbub of nightlife; no river views, no skyscrapers, no horse carriages or antique fire trucks, no pretty street lights, no Snoopy. It's University bus stops and Snelling traffic.