At 7:20pm yesterday I returned from a weekend in Madison, Wisconsin comprised mainly of drinking cheap wine to excess and occasionally picking up juggling props and throwing them around in creative ways. The otherwise unexceptional event of my return was enlivened by two things: the fire alarm in my building malfunctioning at an uncivil volume and the fact that it was the last time I would suffer Minnesota weather for two solid weeks without actually leaving Minnesota.
As part of a feature story that I’m writing, I have voluntarily confined myself to the downtown Minneapolis Skyway System as a combination goofball stunt and case study. Being that I have lived and worked in Skyway-connected bliss for nearly three years, I’ve had ample opportunity to engineer my life so that, if I really don’t feel like it, I don’t have to go outside – for anything.
For decades, the Skyway has been a convenience and curiosity, allowing shoppers and some lucky workers to pass their days while comfortably protected from our occasionally unenviable weather. But with the Skyway’s slow expansion and the addition of critical resources (namely a passable grocery inside Target), the Skyway has evolved in recent years into something approximating a proper neighborhood where, with the right timing and resourcefulness, all the usual errands can be accomplished and a reasonably rewarding life can be led. At least I think it has. And thus the confinement test.
Now it would be fairly easy, if somewhat tedious, to just hunker down for the entire two weeks, burning through my Netflix queue and ordering Luce twice a day, but that would completely miss the point. I have everyday stuff to accomplish. Errands to run, shopping to do, events to attend, social obligations to satisfy and, above all else, a practical life to lead. I’ll be using this blog to keep a (hopefully) short, daily journal, with accounts of what I did and, if it was unusually challenging, how I did it.
I would also like to take this opportunity to invite everyone who lives and/or works on the Skyway to leave comments with tips for their Skyway essentials, be it shopping, food, drink, entertainment, nail salon, whatever. And, for the feature article, I am in fact seeking out people who both live and work on the Skyway for short interviews. If you are, or know, one of these people, please get in touch.
Here are my self-imposed confinement rules:
• I can, for whatever screwball reason, open a window or stand next to an open door, but I cannot break the threshold.
• Though I was sorely tempted to do so, I did not race out before the test began and stockpile all the things I’m pretty sure that I can’t get on the Skyway. I generally get by on the relatively meager food selection available at Target on Nicollet Mall (and the farmers market in summer), but I supplement this once a month or so with a run to Rainbow for a little variety. However, in the interest of not contaminating the test environment, I’ve omitted this step.
• I can take advantage of everyday resources outside of the Skyway (the mail, pizza delivery), though without overt abuse – eg having Lunds deliver $200 of groceries.
• If a Skyway that I’m occupying spontaneously bursts into flame, I can go outside in order to save my life, but I must hold my breath and hop on one foot the entire time.
I have, in the past, gone somewhat disturbing amounts of time without stepping a toe outdoors during our less-than-balmy months, but this two week test will shatter my current record of nine days. It’s fair to say that I have an unusual affinity for the Skyway (check out my previous Skyway-love posts here, here and here), so it would be a stretch to claim that this test will be a personal hardship, though being that I’ve never stayed confined to the Skyway for so long, who knows?
And away we go.