One can’t miss what isn’t there

Before the St. Floyd riots made it internationally notorious, I was occasionally asked if I regretted leaving Minneapolis. I don’t, as it happens, and perhaps this account of a woman who is a lifelong resident and is leaving Minneapolis today will help explain why:

I’ve lived in Minneapolis my entire life. I’m leaving Friday. I no longer recognize my hometown. Minneapolis is my home. My happiest memories are here. It’s where I learned to ride a bike, had my first date, received my high school diploma.

But today, I’m too afraid to even walk in my neighborhood by myself.

The ACE Hardware down the street? The one that I used to bike to in the summer? Robbed twice in the past five days.

The Walgreens next to my elementary school? Molotov cocktail thrown into it.

The Lake Harriet Bandshell, where we spent countless Mother’s Days? Homeless encampment popped up next door.

These are the things you don’t read about in the news.

My friends from MA, Edina, and Jefferson used to hang out at Lake Harriet on a regular basis once we got our drivers licenses. It was like an 80s movie come to life, only decorated with better-looking guys and much prettier blonde girls. I can’t even imagine a homeless encampment there. 

Even two decades ago, the last time I was downtown, the area from First Avenue to Washington Avenue was barely recognizable even though most of the landmarks were the same, including the place where I first met Spacebunny. It looked less like the place I spent most of my weekend evenings and a lot more like my recollections of nights out in Atlanta. 

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that people are now afraid to walk in their own neighborhoods.