Yesterday I went to the British Arrow Awards with Vince. Five years ago, I would never have imagined going to the Walker Art Center to watch 70 minutes of British TV commercials with my son.
Five years ago, I would have spent New Year’s Eve an agony of wondering where he was. Three years ago, I knew where he was—in prison. Two years ago, he was living in my 10×10 foot (3×3 meter) spare room alongside the washer and dryer, and things were extremely tense. A year ago, he had moved out with sober friends, had a job, a car, and things were looking up—or at least were stable.
Today, he has a job he likes with benefits—for the first time in his life. He’s moving in with his girlfriend. He’s got three and a half years of sobriety and works his program of recovery like today is his first day. Well, maybe not every day, but he does work it. I realize things could fall apart, as they have before, but I don’t worry about him every day like I used to. It’s such a relief. Thank you, Vince.
So even though it was -15F (-26C) I got in my frozen car and drove to Minneapolis to meet Vince and his girlfriend and her two daughters for Thai food and sushi.
I had bought two tickets to the Arrow Awards a month ago, then when I went back to buy more so others could join us, they were sold out.
There is a weird phenomenon in Minnesota. It’s the only place in the US where we get 10-year-old episodes of EastEnders on TV and pay $14 to watch British TV commercials. Two weeks ago, my local PBS station started airing the great series Dickensian, which Lynn and I had binge watched in Scotland.
So in addition to being quirky in a general way (Minneapolis-St. Paul is the #12 quirkiest metro area according to Travel + Leisure), we are eccentric in a particularly Anglophile way.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you will likely think I am an Anglophile and I am, but I am also a Francophile, and a Berlin-o-phile, and a Malta-o-phile, and So-Many-Other-Places-o-phile. I’m sure there are plenty of fantastic shows and ads in other countries but since I don’t speak French or German or Maltese, I’m not qualified to writing about them.
The Walker Art Center is a place I like to know is there for other people, but where I never go except for this annual event. I used to belong to the Walker when I was young and hip and trying to meet young, hip men. But my days of pretending that giant rusty chains suspended from the ceiling are Avant-garde art are over.
The Walker screens back-to-back showings of the Arrow Awards Thursday through Saturday from 1:00-8:00pm and tickets sell out within days. It must be a real income generator.
The ads make you laugh, then cry. Two of the funniest, Vince and I agreed, were for Rustlers frozen hamburgers and the Lottery, featuring James Blunt.
And then, when we were laughing out loud, the next ad would be for UNICEF or another organization trying to get the world’s attention about the biggest refugee crisis since WWII. I had heard about this theme ahead of time so I was prepared with Kleenex.
Since I work for an NGO and blog about travel, I am always feeling the juxtaposition of my safe, happy life with the terror and despair with which millions of people are living. This was another contrast, in the newspaper a few weeks ago.
Articles about a man burying drowned migrants and the racist rally in Charlottesville, then an ad about diamond rings.
I don’t care about diamonds, but should I skip a trip this year and donate the money to UNICEF? Do I justify travel, my one big indulgence, by saying it sustains me to carry out my work raising money for refugees? Should I call travel an indulgence? Do I have to justify myself? I don’t think there are any right or wrong answers, but I constantly struggle with the questions.