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I’m exhausted.

We spent the weekend with two thirteen-year old girls, having big city adventures. Two lovely, well behaved young women, but never the less…exhausted.

Granddaughter One just had a birthday and for her gift, my wife and I took her and a buddy to the Twin Cities. Both girls are basketball players, so the plan was to take them to a University of Minnesota Women’s basketball game, with some other activities penciled in to pass the time.

Saturday morning, we got up early to attend a basketball tournament for Grandchild Three, watched his team win two games, and then loaded up the young women and headed for the big city. I occasionally find earning a living to be kind of a bother, especially when I could be fully employed attending grandchild events.

We checked into a hotel right on campus and then wandered around for a while, showing them the sights. The University of Minnesota is the closest thing I have to an alma mater, an honor it shares with several other institutions I briefly attended. It is the site of a prime example of how far I’m willing to stretch in the name of love. In 1973, I was wooing a young woman who had not yet decided whether I was worthy. I knew she loved music, so I bought two tickets to the opera Madame Butterfly. It was being presented at Northrup Auditorium and since I couldn’t afford anything but the cheapest seats, we were in the third row from the back, in the balcony. That meant we were about a mile and a half from the stage - high enough that we needed oxygen. I didn’t know anything about opera, and when people dressed in Japanese costumes started singing in Italian, I was vastly puzzled.

I don’t think the opera tickets were what sealed the deal, but I believe I got points for effort. It’s a good memory and the girls listened patiently as I told the story while we explored the auditorium.

We caught the light rail on campus and met our cosmopolitan daughter at a Greek restaurant. The girls had never had Greek food before, but they puzzled their way through the menu and ate everything they ordered. We climbed back on the light rail to downtown St. Paul and got off in the middle of the St. Paul Winter Carnival torchlight parade. It was crowded, loud, and exciting.

You know, I love where I live, and I hope my grandchildren love it, too. But it’s a big world, and I enjoy showing it to them, watching them try on a different place and a different life to see if it fits.

The next morning, we had brunch in a Dinkytown dive that caters mostly to college life, then drove to the Guthrie Theatre and walked out on the balcony high above the Mississippi River. As we headed to the basketball game, I showed the girls how to drive the wrong way on a one-way street. This involved extreme light-flashing from oncoming cars, waiting for a pause in the traffic, then thumping over the curb on both sides of the street in what was a massively illegal U-turn, even though it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

We settled into our seats after I’d paid a fortune for a Diet Coke and popcorn, and promptly spilled half of it on my coat.

The game went to double overtime, the Gophers won after Rutgers

barely missed a last second shot, my granddaughter got one of the t-shirts thrown into the crowd, and I didn’t spill anything else. A good time was had by all - maybe a great time.

The girls slept most of the four-hour drive home. Since I was driving, I did not.

But I wanted to.

Copyright 2020 Brent Olson

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