The end of an affair.

(Originally published on Oct. 31, 2010, at www.michagone.com)

Dear Michigan,

I wanted to be true to you. I really did.

When everyone took off after college – to DC, to San Francisco, to Chicago, to New York and Alabama and Oregon and Minnesota and even Kansas, I stayed with you. More accurately, I burrowed deeper into you, away from family and friends and concerts, so sure that anything you had to offer was exactly what I needed. I was going to make a life for myself Up North, and it was going to be glorious.

And honestly, it was. All that bullshit my professors told me about “paying your dues” and “working your way up the food chain” was totally true. I had found a job I loved, in a small town I adored. Sure, it was almost an hour’s drive to the nearest Target. I could hardly pay my rent. And while my friends were off having wild adventures, I was falling into a familiar work-beer-bed, work-beer-bed routine. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t how I pictured my life at 23. Or 24. Or 25.

I don’t know when it happened, Michigan, but at some point, I felt like you didn’t have anything left for me. And not long after that, I didn’t have anything to give you, either.

I look back on it now and it seems like the end of our affair was so obvious. Like that time your high school boyfriend breaks up with you because you wouldn’t sleep with him, and within a week he’s fucked your best friend and everyone knows it but you. We were no good together anymore, Michigan. So I had to go.

Now that we’re apart, we’re so much better to each other. I speak of you fondly in my new town. I hold my right hand palm-up, and show new friends and acquaintances where I’ve lived: “This area is Downriver; it’s where my family lives … I spent a summer in the Thumb – you could drive 20 minutes any direction and be on the Lake Huron beach … I lived in Big Rapids for three years; you wouldn’t believe how much I learned there, or how nice the people are…”

I’m sorry it took leaving to appreciate the best things about you. Little things that are only you, Michigan, impress a lot of people. I win over my dates when I tell them I drove Model-Ts for two years at Greenfield Village. It’s shocking how many people will sit, rapt with attention when I describe how a sugar beet refinery smells, or the tasty, tasty microbrews you can get, in a mug with your name on it, at Shorts Brewery. People like the Great Lakes, they like Sleeping Bear Dunes, they like shipwreck museums and Tahquamenon Falls. I like all that, too.

But even more than that, I like walking into my grandma’s kitchen that smelled like frying onions for so many years, just so I can see her. I miss walks in downtown Wyandotte with my mom, and I miss meeting my baby sister in Grand Rapids for ladies’ shopping days. I can do just about anything where I am now, or wherever I’ll go, but Michigan, you’re my only home.

Sincerely,

LW

One Response to “The end of an affair.”

  1. gdaybloke Says:

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    Continue being awesome
    Gdaybloke