The Color Purple

No, not that The Color Purple.  Purple is the color of Minnesota.  Vikings, Prince, my foot. . .

A Griswold Family Minneapolis Travelogue in three vignettes.


Our spring break Minneapolis in-and-out adventure begins with the delivery of our goofnut dog to my parents’ house, whose 40 acres would have been a dream come true for any canine with long legs like ours.  Unfortunately, Caleb doesn’t heed the command “Come,” so his adventures ended at the end of a 200′ rope.  Still, 200′ feet is more leeway than he gets here in the city, but may be just a little too close to nature for our urban-dwelling dog.  My dad characterized Caleb’s meeting with the deer by him melting lower and lower into the floor and out of their line of sight, but the raccoon encounter raised his hackles, all right.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for dogsitting.  And though he is 100% disrespectful of personal space, he IS a nice dog, isn’t he?

Purple Pain & Purple Rain

I experience weird, next-level empathy for not only people, but also for objects, entities, and ideas.  Specifically, in this case, I felt sorry for the Minnesota Twins Baseball Club, who, on a Sunday afternoon, sold most game tickets at nosebleed seats cost, with a general admission mentality.  We purchased four seats, but were told that the section our seats were assigned was closed, and that we could sit wherever we liked, unless the season ticket holder who actually held these seats claimed them.  It was about 44 degrees outside, so four seats in the sun, please.

We enjoyed most of the game along the first base line, but as the world turned, our sunny seats fell into the shadows.  As always, the Griswold Weir family matriarch got cold, like my feet are numb kind of cold, so we sought seats further up in sun-soaked right field.  Several hundred other fans had the same idea, so sunny options were limited.  We did score four seats together, and as I made the trek down and over, I crashed and burned as I climbed over a row of seats.  Kids, it was spectacular!  All the drunks behind us were laughing before I even hit the ground (and yeah, I could hear the snickers while I fell, which isn’t embarrassing AT ALL. . .), but the laughs quickly turned to “OOOOOOOHH” and those facial “holy shit” grimaces one makes as one shrugs his shoulders to his chin.

You just did it, right?  The “ooooooohh.”  The grit of your teeth.  The shoulders.  But still you smirked and giggled a little imagining my foot sliding, crunched between the seat back and bottom, my knee twisting the opposite direction while the rest of me was catapulted onto the row of seats in front of me as the contents of my hands went flying.  It’s OK.  It looks funny when people fall, and I’m so good at it.  But now my left foot and ankle are not just prickly cold, they’re swelling over the margins of my pink Chuck Taylors.  Purple Pain.

Moments later, it’s the seventh inning stretch, and the singer along with camera crew were about 4 feet behind us on deck level.  My son was on the scoreboard the whole while she sang, and all I could think as tears pricked my eyes and ran down my face was, “Thank stars I fell before I went down on camera in front of the whole stadium.”  Even if it was general admission.

Our hotel overlooked First Avenue & 7th Street Entry, the bar/club featured heavily in Prince’s Purple Rain.  If you’re not a music nut, I imagine this sounds peculiar, but you can just feel Prince in Minneapolis.  And yeah, I went all touristy on ya, taking pictures of Prince’s star (it was gold! not silver like the other performers).  And it was fun to snap photos of my husband by his idol’s stars too.

Loving the purple filter

He loves Paul Westerberg and The Replacements like I love Barenaked Ladies



Unfortunately, my ankle/foot situation rendered me 100% useless Sunday night, so I watched the world below me from our hotel room while my husband and kids explored downtown via the Skyway, seeking a dinner establishment that aired the NBA Playoffs.  Our Milwaukee Bucks positively crushed the Detroit Pistons, and it was kind of fun for them to watch the game in a sports bar.  Sans alcohol for the underage set, obviously.

A Distinguished Gentleman

En route to the Twins game Sunday, we encountered an older gentleman, wearing a suit, fedora, and top coat. He approached us, saying he had just ridden the bus up from Kansas City, and needed $22 to get back, and could we help him?  He was pleasant and charming, but I don’t carry cash.  We did not help him financially, and kept walking.  Glancing back, we observed him approach another family, who straight-up ignored him.  Unfortunately poverty in cities being what it is, I encounter at least 4-5 individuals asking for money each day as I commute to work and between work locations.  I didn’t give this gentleman much more thought until the next day.

Monday morning, I hobbled to the Metro stop, where we all hopped the train to the Mall of America.  Given the Purple Pain, I couldn’t have wanted anything less than to stroll (limp!) through the largest mall in the world (I don’t know if “largest mall in the world” is an actual fact, so you might want to check Google for actual square footage.  All I knew was that in my mind, it WAS the largest, longest, slowest trek I ever wanted to make).  Anyway, we hop the train, and two stops later, the same gentleman from the ball game boarded our car, sitting next to my older son.

Again, he was chatty and cordial.  My husband commented that we had met him the day before, a fact he vehemently denied.  My husband was specific in location and with the story he’d told us, insistent we had met him, and after several minutes including a $100 bet from the man, our fellow passenger acquiesced, admitting that he almost never went out on Sundays, so the day prior had been an exception, and yes, by gosh, he was out and about near Target Field.

He was friendly, asked where we were from, where we were going, etc.  He again asked for money, and my husband denied him again.  At this point, the man said to my husband that white people from Milwaukee don’t like black people, and don’t want to help black people.  To his everlasting credit, my husband plainly asked the man why he perceived our not giving him money was because he was African-American.  They volleyed verbally for a short time, wherein my husband said sometimes he gave people who asked money, and sometimes he did not.  I’ve seen him hand $20 bills to families in parking lots, and other bills to random people who’ve asked.

It wasn’t a racial issue, just a no cash issue.  Shortly after their exchange, the gentleman bid us a good day, exited our train, and immediately hopped on a different car.  I don’t know one single thing about this man, but he stuck with me.  They say homeless people are invisible.  I don’t know if he was homeless.  I don’t know if he was a millionaire hitting people up for a few bucks here and there, testing the waters of human kindness.  I don’t know if he is just lonely, and I assume nothing.  My takeaway was that I hoped our kids saw that we were pleasant and kind to this man, a stranger to us, and that he was polite and cordial with us.  If he was “invisible,” I hope he enjoyed a conversation.  If he was seeking decency, I hope he found it even though decency didn’t pay this time.

I remained in bed Monday evening, foot elevated with ice.  The boys decided to catch another ball game, and from it, the kids texted me.  Yeah.  I wrecked the vacation, but I did something right.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

I had to do something uniquely Minneapolis, so I suggested we hit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden prior to getting back on the road.  I’m not a super-artsy gal, but I am thrilled we went.  Art can move a person.  You don’t get to pick what moves you, but when you are moved, you can also become immobile.

I stood immobile as I encountered the work of Jenny Holzer, whose words were carved into granite benches in the garden.  I began snapping photos of these seat engravings, some wise, some challenging, some frightening, and some timely as hell–and since her work was done in the late 1980s, I’m left to wonder just how much progress we’ve actually made as a society.

Wise: It takes a while before you can step over inert bodies and go ahead with what you were trying to do.

Challenging: You can make yourself enter somewhere frightening if you believe you’ll profit from it.  The natural response is to flee but people don’t act that way anymore.

Frightening.  And timely.  And whoa. By your response to danger it is easy to tell how you have lived and what has been done to you. You show whether you want to stay alive, whether you think you deserve to, and whether you believe it’s any good to act.

Timely: The rich knifing victim can flip and feel like the aggressor if he thinks about privilege.  He also can find the cut symbolic or prophetic.

And this. Love.  It’s greater than gravity.


Six-plus hours in the car later, we’re back home.  It’s school spring break for the kids and me, but my husband is back to work.  It’s opening day for my son’s baseball team.  It’s his eighth opening day, and each opener leaves me marveling over how long baseball has been part of his life, 61.53% of it so far!  I don’t believe my sensitive, sweet little guy has the win-at-any-cost mentality necessary to rise to elite athlete status.  He’s a nice kid who loves playing the game.  I’m proud to watch him try hard and succeed.  And I’m proud to watch him try hard and lose, even as I ache with and for him when he’s on the “L” side of the equation.  Let’s get ’em tonight, kid!  I promise to sit in my own portable stadium seat, purple ankle and foot firmly planted on the ground.

Play ball!


7 thoughts on “The Color Purple

  1. Sounds like a wonderful time even if you were laid up for some of it–like you said, at least it wasn’t captured by the Jumbotron! I know what you mean about the homeless–it’s so hard to tell. Last year there was a poor girl at our corner with a sign that said “Pregnant and homeless”. We all felt sorry for her and gave her change when we could. Then about 6 months ago, I saw her further uptown with the same sign. Then three weeks ago, she was back at our corner. Either she’s got the gestation of an elephant or she’s playing us all. Unfortunately, she’s in the minority–most people really do need help. And even if I don’t have any change, I always respond to their greetings so they feel less invisible.


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