Nine Houses: Lowertown Lofts - Living in St Paul and finding my way
Updated: Jun 30
Characters of Lowertown, My Neighbor - 2011-2013
One thing that categorized my many years spent living in Lowertown Lofts were all the people I met, characters of one sort or another. In the early years in my apartment facing Mears Park, the building’s leasing assistant put on get-togethers of one variety or another on a regular basis. While some of the residents were transient, only staying a few months to a year, others renewed their leases year after year.
In the first couple of years, the city was in the process of building the Green Line lightrail from Minneapolis to St Paul. The first change which impacted us residents were that cars could no long go both ways on 4th street (behind the apartment). The area now occupied by train tracks become a construction zone. A noisy one at that!
My next-door neighbor at the time was a rather handsome and strapping engineer on the project. Dark hair, brooding composure. Muscles for days.
He had moved into town from some other state or place (I don’t remember) to facilitate his work. My neighbor, when he wasn’t working was often seen in the local watering holes like Bulldog, Barrio and Trattoria. We didn’t have a whole lot of restaurants in this part of town at the time. St. Paul was sleepy and quiet. Most people left on weekends.
My beautiful neighbor was good with the young ladies who’d frequent our night spots. Good enough that several times a week, I’d hear the noises of banging, crashing, moaning and ass-smacking through the paper-thin wall that adjoined our apartments. I learned the hard way that my perfect spot for meditation and tranquility wasn’t going to be so tranquil.
I heard him one day lamenting that he didn’t understand how someone could make noise complaints for doing what came naturally for a young single guy like himself.
There was me trying to keep a job longer than a few months or weeks, do spiritual work and healing. Meditate. Write in my journal. Sleep. I wasn’t always so understanding of my neighbor and created a lot of separation in my mind with him.
When the lightrail was completed and opened in June of 2014, I’d had a few chance encounters with him at the rooftop pool although we didn't do much but nod in each other's direction. He drank a lot and boasted loudly.
He eventually found a steady girlfriend, although their fights and make-ups were epic drama. When he moved out in 2013 -- to take another job, I’d come to miss him. Especially when it came to who moved in next.
My first full-time job
I joined Citizens League as their new Office Manager in November of 2011 after I switched temp agencies. I helped them move to a co-working space that was newly located in the building behind Lowertown Lofts, on 4th street. We were housed in the CoCo space (Now Fueled Collective).
My project management abilities and previous experience fit nicely at the time with what needed to be accomplished.
I’d been working with a BodyTalk professional on and off, along with another friend, Kris who did the same modality. BodyTalk is a modality that works on connecting the energy systems of the body. We focused on my immune system -I was frequently sick – and what might be blocking me from steady employment and were excited when my list of perfect job qualities manifested at Citizen's League. At first, my job was enlightening, exciting and friendly. I really felt at home.
I thought having a steady job would finally solve some of my long-standing issues with being in and out of work and help me to get back on my feet. In a way, it did but I was severely under-earning and I still couldn’t pay all my bills even with a steady job.
I also felt increasing bored with being the office admin as time continued but wasn't ready to choose anything else, yet.
Other healing paths I found at the time which would prove to be helpful on my journey of growth were Access Consciousness and Abraham-Hicks, of which I read all her published books at the time. While I didn’t know how to work myself into something else, I figured I could visualize myself into greater and greater spheres of success. My visions boards of cars, wedding rings and money lined the walls. My friend and I would work together on our wish lists and ideals.
The Watering Holes
Back to Lowertown’s nightlife and neighbors. I frequented the art crawls and outdoor festivals as much as possible. I often took the bus to events in Minneapolis, like the DJ nights at the once thriving Club Jager. Or attended concerts at First Ave. Given my lack of interest in cooking, I’d be found at the few restaurants we had at the time. One of these was Trattoria da Vinci.
It was here that I ate many a homestyle Italian meal while chatting with neighbors. It was “the” spot for many of us to congregate, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. We didn’t even need each other’s numbers – you could find most of the who’s who of Lowertown there on any given night of the week. We may not have been the Minneapolis A-listers but we had our own brand of élan. We told stories, ate meals, drank the copious cocktails of our amazing bartender, Dana and maybe, on several occasions kept each other alive through thick and thin.
I won’t say there wasn’t our fair share of scandals – cheaters and scoundrels, one-night stands talked about liberally in the weeks after, drunken slobbery escapades and more. Some bonds were ephemeral and others long-lasting, and yet my favorite memories of Lowertown can probably be boiled down to nights at Trattoria.
Fear and self-loathing cloaked in metaphysical spirituality and self-help
Still, the theme of that time as I became more familiar with my surroundings and before I owned a car, certainly included a fair amount of grappling with the weather. Slipping on sidewalks, huddling in the cold waiting for a bus that never came. Learning which clothes would keep me warm, and which did not.
Fears of one sort or another were front and center. My parents paid most of my bills and I lived on the remainder of my all too small paychecks throughout that time. I believed it was the micro-ness of my paychecks that was the problem. I didn’t consider moving from my too expensive apartment or that there might be another way to exist -- for all the reasons already mentioned here. To me, right around the corner, was the SOLUTION I just hadn’t gotten to yet.
At the curling club, I improved my skills year-by-year. I also watched a lot of curling because it was there I could socialize and observe people who fascinated me. I forged new friendships. At the same time, I felt I was deficient in some way that required me to spend an inordinate amount of time healing and healing others.
My conversations with psychics (whom I thought of as trusted advisors and friends) was “I don’t know why he doesn’t like me or why he is avoiding me,” and the feeling running through my body was fear, coupled with self-loathing coupled with dread I’d never be enough for anything. The very idea of not being liked triggered days of sadness and a lack of homeostasis.
I didn’t date much, I fell into things that showed up. I hoped every time they would deliver me from this unique path of suffering I was on. A person's potential and overwhelming feelings of spiritual connection generated my insights. These were backed-up by the equally scarred friends whose supportive “readings” confirmed my latest feelings as they desperately wanted to believe in rescue by romance.
The by default quickie romance was both jarring and devastating as it was quick-lived. It was either that or passing judgement on all those who made poor choices, I would never make. That level of superiority, ubiquitous in metaphysical/spiritual circles made it easy to avoid the very real pain of my circumstance. The other thing that showed up were guys I thought of as "just friends." I got pretty good at not being attracted to them. My heart and soul occupied elsewhere. Still, at least I wasn't lonely.
Coaching & Truth-telling
I found myself coaching and telling people what to do – I became familiar with feeling stronger by knowing better what other people should or should not be doing. “Wow, so and so just had an affair right in front of their spouse, maybe if they just loved themselves better, they wouldn’t be such a douchebag.”
Lowertown in those early years was both a salve and a playground for epic tales of self-aggrandizement. The next big thing, the better, more romantic boyfriend, the husband that never showed up, the job that would solve my financial problems. At the end of this period, I was unemployed, and most definitely single. The love of my life unmistakenly out of reach.
This isn't to say that I didn't have fun. I took my personal trainer, Amanda to a day at the racetrack in Wisconsin organized by my curling buddy Rik in August 2013. We ate corn and peaches. We toured 45th Parallel Distillery
Amanda got me into the best shape I've ever been in that summer and I ran her Access Consciousness Bars and we both complained about work. Now she runs a thriving personal training business. I spent days at the rooftop pool with its views of the cityscape of St Paul. I walked the Mississippi River. I danced all over town. Minneapolis-St Paul had this newness to it, in which everything I did was fascinating and surreal; adventurous. I felt I was in Minnesota for a purpose. Even if that purpose was fixing someone else.
In the next blog, I’ll write about the move to the sixth floor, more Lowertown characters and going back to school all of which happened in the latter part of my Lowertown Lofts experience.
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