How many more Saint Paul authors will win literary prizes this year? Two weeks ago, we were talking about Julie Schumacher winning the Thurber Prize for American humor. Last week, Macalester College professor Marlon James won the Man Booker Prize.
We had only been living in Saint Paul for a couple of months when my husband told me he’d found somebody else. “Someone from work,” he said. “Can I keep my stuff here until I find a new place?” I put off telling my mom for a couple of weeks, not wanting her and my dad to worry about me and my one-year-old son. When I finally did tell her, I had to repeatedly assure her that my freelance work was actually bringing in enough money to live on, even though it was far from true.
Dr. Sobkoviak of Frogtown, our dentist, stood looking out the window of his office at Western and University and saw Russia. As he changed the point of the drill, looking straight through Old Home Dairy across the street into the Kremlin, he warned me about Nikita Krushchev. He was slow and thorough, stopping to polish his glasses in front of that window. In his starched white tunic, he was a true professional.
Saint Paul is a provincial town, a green place of bluffs and rolling hills made up of culture swatches—Old Timers and Newcomers—that sometimes clash and bump up against each other. But eventually, with a little nip and tuck here and a stitch or two there, we settle into a quilted work that is strong and wide enough to cover us all. Saint Paul is a haven for the creative and the faint of heart; those of us who long for a little less struggle and a lot more quality. So, I ran. Yes, I ran away, away!
It's 8 p.m. at City Hall and the lights in the mayor's office are still on. He sets down the stack of reports he's been reading, glances at the clock in his office, and reaches for his briefcase and keys. It's time to make the rounds. He flips off the lights and walks down the echoing corridors of City Hall to the door. Everyone is long gone.