As I imagined my “perfect day” for this essay, I thought about how much of it is different from 10, five, even two years ago. Times change. People change. In my late 20s, this day would have ended around 3 a.m. (or later). Now? I’ll be happy to wrap it up barely into Sunday.
8 a.m. It starts with a run, which 28-year-old me would have laughed at. It’s 62 degrees and sunny when I leave my house in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, head east to the Mississippi River, north to Lake Street, over the bridge into St. Paul, back down East River Road to the Ford Parkway Bridge, then back home. It’s about 6.5 miles, and if I run it in 55 minutes that means I was fast and I am happy.
10 a.m. Cleaned up and rested, my wife and I take our 1-year-old daughter Anabel and 12-year-old pug Petunia for a stroll around the neighborhood. We stop by Turtle Bread (3421 W 44th St., Mpls.) so I can get a coffee and Julie can get an almond croissant. We’re not in a hurry, which these days is a luxury.
Noon. We drive to brunch at New Louisiana Café (613 Selby Av., St. Paul), a spot we’ve come to appreciate more and more because they are friendly to babies (Anabel), vegetarians (Julie) and those who are gluten-free (me). I get a pile of eggs, hash browns and gluten-free toast. Anabel steals a little of it in between attempts to get everyone’s attention with smiles.
2:30 p.m. There’s a sporting event on TV. It’s not a life-or-death struggle game. It can even be a regular-season Twins game. Just something that can be on lightly in the background as I go from a seated position … to a slouched position … to hey, nobody would mind if I just laid down for a minute … and finally to full-on sleep. I can’t remember the last time I napped for an hour. I bet it’s glorious.
4 p.m. I wake up and indulge in another luxury that used to be a regular thing: I grab a book and read in the back yard. It’s 77 degrees now (I have oddly specific temperature requests), and I alternate between sun and shade. Julie and Anabel are napping now, and I’m as relaxed as can be.
6 p.m. The baby sitter arrives, and Julie and I head out for a few hours. We stop first for a drink at Du Nord (2610 E. 32nd St., Mpls.), a new craft cocktail spot (as an offshoot of their distillery) that just opened near our house. They only serve old-school gin and vodka drinks. It’s magic.
7 p.m. Friends pick us up from Du Nord and we head to Café Maude (5411 Penn Av. S., Mpls.), a longtime favorite of ours. We indulge in many courses, empty a bottle of wine or two and change exactly zero diapers in the course of a long dinner.
10:30 p.m. After getting dropped off, we are floored to find Anabel is 1) asleep and 2) using her crib. Julie, too, decides she is worn out from the day and heads to bed. But I can’t end this yet. I make the 10-minute walk to the light rail station and head downtown to watch some live music. If I’m particularly lucky, there’s a local guitar-driven band I’ve never heard of at the 7th Street Entry (701 N 1st Av., Mpls.) that ends up blowing me away. And because this is my perfect day, that’s exactly what happens before I slip back home on the train.