Art by the author
6/1/2020: Into the Fire
“I will always live in Minneapolis. It’s so cold, it keeps the bad people out” – Prince
It was still wintery when I came home to Minneapolis in late March; the winds and sleet weren’t the most inviting welcome, but quarantine kept me at home and out of the cold.
In April the city started to thaw; brilliant, crisp green emerged from the gray of winter, there was growth all around.
At the start of May, lilacs bloomed along the sidewalks, the trees blossomed. Despite the quarantine there was a collective warmth felt throughout the city.
Then, on the night of May 25th, it became unbearably hot. The murder of George Floyd pushed Minneapolis to a boiling point, the pent up tension ignited a blistering heat that has filled the bodies of thousands of Minnesotans; a heat that has spread across the nation, throughout the world.
Heat encourages growth, heat brings the promise of a new beginning. But heat is also volatile, it can become overwhelming with the life it brings and erase what was once there.
Cold stunts growth, it brings the promise of an end. Cold is static, it preserves what was already there.
Minnesota has long been defined by the cold; Minnesotans are known for their ability to withstand harsh winters, their ability to live in an aggressive environment that is often burdensome, even harmful to their wellbeing.
But Minneapolis can no longer be defined by the cold, it will now be a city defined by a burning skyline. The heat has begun to envelope us – and it’s only going to get hotter from here.
6/3/2020: Protesting During a Pandemic
Mom and I planned on going to a large protest this evening, against the Minneapolis Police Department and the president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, Bob Kroll.
The protest was downtown so we started to bike over, but about 5 minutes into our ride we found ourselves at a smaller protest taking place in front of the office of the Police Officers’ Federation. I didn’t realize we lived so close to the building, I’ve been passing by it all this time without ever realizing what it was; it’s so inconspicuous, plain red brick that almost falls into the background if you’re not looking for it.
We decided to stay at the smaller protest. We listened to various speakers, joined in on chants (although they got slightly muddled by the masks, the collective voice of the group was quite powerful), and silently kneeled in the street to block traffic. We made ourselves, and in conjunction the building beside us and all that it represented, impossible to ignore.
We stayed there until 9 pm, the city-wide curfew was extended from 8 pm to 10 pm two days ago, a sign that the National Guard may be leaving soon. I really hope they don’t stay much longer, it’s felt thoroughly dystopian these past few days. Armored vehicles have passed by my window at night to announce curfew and yesterday Mom and I biked past a bunch of soldiers in full uniform as we were taking my graduation pictures. I don’t want this to be normal.
6/12/2020: Protesting During a Pandemic, Part 2
I went to another protest at the Police Officers’ Federation today. This one was actually pretty big. It was on the news so a bunch of helicopters and a drone circled around us for a bit, which was a little unsettling given the very recent military presence around here.
Mom brought hand sanitizer and offered it to the people around us and to the people handing out flyers. It seems like it would be dangerous to both symbolically and physically exist as a collective during a pandemic, but everybody there was dedicated to keeping those around them safe and healthy.
I was pleasantly reassured at today’s protest that there are people who still care about the well being of others.
6/30/2020: The End of a Chapter
Mom lost her job today. It’s not entirely unexpected. The architecture firm she worked for had her “working from home” for the past 3 months, but they never gave her any assignments aside from attending weekly Zoom meetings with the other admins. They never even gave her a company computer to use at home. We’re more surprised that they waited this long to let her go. So now Mom has to file for unemployment and since her employer waited until now to let her go we may not be eligible for the CARES Act benefit.
It seems like my mom’s employer was just stringing her along, keeping her in this excruciatingly drawn out limbo while they figured out how the company was going to function over the next year, while not considering how this would affect her.
Now we don’t know what the next year is going to look like at all. I have my AmeriCorps service starting up in August but until then both of us are out of work. We’re not strangers to this feeling, we have been considered a low-income family for most of my life, but over the past year and a half we were finally getting out of it. When I got into college and when Mom got this job things started to really look up for us, but now both those chapters in our lives have unceremoniously come to a close because of the pandemic. In this moment, it feels like the past four years were for nothing. We ended up in the same place we started.
I have no idea what our lives will look like over the next few months. Much like our city that’s on the mend, we’ll have to rebuild and redefine ourselves this summer. Once fall comes around and the cold begins to return to Minneapolis, who will we be?