Nine Houses: My first studio at Lowertown Lofts
Updated: Jun 30
My first moves in the Twin Cities, happened way before I ended up at Lowertown Lofts in St Paul.
I came all the way across the country in 2010 seeking a life that didn’t involve living at home with my parents as an adult.
The California of 2008/2009, reeling from the multiple econonmic failures of the time, was not a hospitable place in many ways. Hiring freezes and an over-saturated job market going back to the woes of September 11, tech start-up failures, Enron and the financial markets as well as the later mortgage crises were the norm. I felt lucky to get temp jobs and most of them didn't last over six months.
Moving to Minnesota, was both a risk and a challenge to live differently. I left the comfortable, known world in California and ventured east.
My soul called to me and said, “You are going.” This was both frightening and exhilarating. I had plenty of time to deal with the feelings around this yearning to follow my soul’s call and yet, as time passed, it became this daily feeling of uncomfortable staying home in California. I might not ever explain it logically. I just knew that if I didn’t go, I would get more and more uncomfortable.
I realize now just how unusual it is to live beyond one’s comfort zone and follow the call of soul. So many would never do what I did. At the time, I had gone through enough spiritual and personal growth to know that the best aspects of life come when we’re willing to venture (maybe not entirely fearlessly) into the unknown.
I can tell a story about what inspired me to live in Minnesota and the Twin Cities. A collection of facts and figures. I’ve told parts of and versions of it to many people. And yet, the most important part of it all is that I was willing to follow the energy that occurred at the time and go after my best life.
Maybe the only thing I didn’t know, was that it wasn’t going to be a short journey with an easy rise to the top. It turned out to consist of starting over with multiple deaths and rebirths along the way. That was the sacred path I had chosen, I suppose.
By the end of end of 2010 I’d lived in my friend’s parent’s house in Osseo; a room in the house of a local music promoter which I rented for a small weekly fee; a room in the house of a disabled alcoholic who stayed up all night playing computer games and a room in a student pad on the University of Minnesota campus. The student pad was the last straw. Between the loud parties, pot smoking, crazy roommates and washing machine that didn’t work, I was fed up.
The path to Lowertown Lofts
I asked for help from my parents to move into an apartment. At the time, I looked for a place that was the antithesis of the insanity I’d lived in for a year as I began my new life in Minnesota. However, I still didn’t have a steady job or a temp job that paid more than $13/hour. I couldn’t technically afford Lowertown Lofts.
I had a healthy dose of belief that around the corner, something good had to come. It had to get better. What I didn’t realize at the time I signed my first lease at Lowertown Lofts was that my soul and God had a much bigger plan for me than simply getting a nice apartment and cushy job.
This path I was taking would not be linear, normal or even explainable. It was a journey toward a type of self-love that most people never achieve, and I continue to work on. And that type of crucible like experience in which your entire way of being is cleaned out, morphed, remade and spit back out, would take years, not months.
Lowertown Lofts was not my first choice
By first choice, I mean, I almost went after an artist’s loft at one of St Paul’s many buildings (at the time) dedicated to fostering arts in the city. I had already published my collection of short stories and poetry titled “The Journey of the Malevolent Empress” and so I had a portfolio. I’d visited the building for the art crawls St Paul conducts twice a year.
I imagined participating in these crawls and the artist community and thought it would be inspiring and exciting. At the time, a huge 1-bedroom loft was about $150 a month cheaper than Lowertown Lofts. My income which was limited at best, certainly qualified for the Section 42 income restrictions. I still couldn’t technically afford it. I am not sure if it would have been a better choice to end up there. because I didn't choose it.
At the last minute, before I signed the lease, I visited the Lowetown Lofts. It had a coffee maker/espresso machine in the lobby with free coffee, access to a rooftop pool in the summer, a great walk-in wardrobe, and a view of Mear’s Park. Even though (unknown to me) I would shortly be let go from my temp job and be unemployed, I managed to use my meager paystub to get approved.
How faulty were my thoughts?
If all the belief systems I have released in the last few years through Three-Dimensional Therapy are any indication, despite my clear intuition to go after the Lowertown Lofts studio, it is likely that the choice was built on a heavy dose of faulty-thinking. We’ll never know how I may have made different choices as I headed into my second year in Minnesota because that is not how life works. We do our best with the information and limited “intuition” we have.
The reason I remember choosing the Lowertown Lofts studio over any other option – an affordable room in a different location, the Tilsner space or an apartment in a cheaper neighborhood -- was pretty clear at the time and made perfect sense.
When I visited the Tilsner artist space several someone’s were smoking pot in their rooms – the unmistakable smell of burning greenery floated through the halls. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t stand the smell and have had very strong viewpoints about the use of it – specifically for myself, and more largely the energy of being around pot when others are using it. I’d just planned my escape from a house where regular parties included pot. I was already turned off.
The affordable room in a different location was largely not considered because I’d just spent a year couch surfing, in addition to the practical camping in the above-mentioned unsavory locales. The mixed results of these experiences were fresh in my mind. The memories of putting up with insane behavior and various aspects of my housemate’s mental illness as well as subjecting myself to what I saw of as the dregs of humanity were too overwhelming.
Only a year into my living in the Twin Cities, I didn’t know the area or the available rentals well enough. I also didn’t have reliable Internet most of the time to conduct a thorough search. In addition, I didn’t own a car so I was heavily restricted on locations close to bus routes with easy access to the majority of job sites I might be sent to with a temp agency.
My main goals with this move were not living within a means that was unreliable in the first place. It was to have a sanctuary where I could come home and be at peace, free from what I perceived as negative vibes, bad behavior and unsavory practices. I wanted to enjoy my existence and not be fighting turf wars with other people’s demons.
I sought something greater- a beautiful space, an adult life-style, a means to extend myself into this new community. Even though I needed my parent’s help with finances, I considered the apartment a long way and a far cry from living in their house. I felt on my way to a more independent life.
A decision made, peace at last
I signed my first lease at Lowertown Lofts and moved in with the help of two women friends from the St Paul Curling Club. Donations of kitchen supplies came from a recently married couple at the curling club who provided dishes, glassware and more. Some additional kitchenware I purchased with any extra money I could scrape up, adding to my collection of stainless-steel pans with trips to Marshalls in downtown Minneapolis.
Peace and tranquility appeared to be achieved and I was certain that a great job paying twice as much as most of the jobs I was getting through OfficeTeam would be right around the corner. I mean I had a Master’s Degree and fifteen years’ experience as an Executive Assistant. No brainer, right?
Maybe if I truly had faulty-thinking it was in the area of time and in accepting what my true calling really was. And that, was not going to happen overnight or even in the next few years. I just wasn’t willing to accept this and therefore didn’t see it coming.
In the next blog, I’ll go into more detail about my lessons that came as I started my new life as an apartment dweller in Lowertown, St. Paul. This city apartment was the first of two studios I occupied in the building in my time at Lowertown Lofts and living downtown.
Adventures would be had, cooking mishaps and difficult life experiences. It would turn out to be quite the journey of self-exploration.
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