Friday, August 16, 2013

Reflections on Gold

Downtown Minneapolis from MSP, hazy August day
Minnesota winters can be cold, bitterly cold.

I don't mind January in Minnesota: the relief Christmas is in the rearview mirror is enough to keep me going; besides, it's a great month for quiet reflection and to play with my Legos (Technics). Come February, though, my thoughts turn to escaping to warmer places; in February MSP is my favorite place on the planet

The other day, basking in August sunshine, I did my annual cycle ride to MSP. I took the 28th Street Greenway, then followed the Mississippi, glanced at Minnehaha Falls, continued through Fort Snelling State Park, then finally headed up the steep road to the airport.

I stopped to watch the day's first Airbus from Amsterdam being turned around for the flight back to AMS.

Airbus 330 being provisioned for flight to AMS
This is the international area of Terminal 1, the "G" (formerly "Gold") Concourse, a source of many happy memories, and a few stressful ones:
September 1982, sitting in the old-fashioned bar with my mother and father, waiting for them to board their flight back to the UK. My mother was giving me final orders: "For your next guests, you must buy more toilet paper: ladies use more toilet paper." I sat there imagining my mother hermetically sealed in an aluminum tube for the next few hours, ordered to buckle up; peace at last. Gladly, I ordered a beer from the server, an older lady who looked exploited in her age-inappropriate slit dress. I still find the image of that slit dress disturbing.
Until 1990, every time I lined up at Immigration, back from a foreign trip, I dreaded being asked about my sexual orientation; I would ask Dwight to go in a separate immigration line, I was ready to plead the fifth.  Every now and then I would read an article about a gay foreigner being denied entry at MSP, and being sent back on the next plane: would I be next? The immigration act of 1917 banned from entry to the United States: “homosexuals”, “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, "criminals", “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, and so on. It wasn't until 1990 entry to the USA could no longer be denied based on sexual orientation.
Back in the days before constant contact via the Internet, bad news would pile up while I was traveling, and I would get to hear it when I returned, jet-lagged. Friends would meet me with news like: "Your Endotronics stock is now worthless." In my absence (in 1987) it turned out Endotronics had been inventing sales, and their products were piling up in a warehouse. A bunch of individuals, and the State of Minnesota lost a chunk of money, and the CEO ended up in jail.
These memories are far outweighed by happy memories. Through these gates I've started many adventures in Europe and Asia. Come February, I'll be ready for my next adventure.

For now, though, there's nowhere else I want to be than Minnesota.

Heading home from MSP

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