I’m heading to northern Michigan next week to visit my parents, which means one long drive across Ohio and an even longer one through southern and the northern-lower peninsula of Michigan. It is a drive I am by now very comfortable with, having driven both stretches of road dozens of times. The Ohio Turnpike and 23 North are part of me now, roads that carry me to the place I still think of as home, because that is where my parents live. The longer I live out of Michigan, the more I doubt I’ll return for any extended length of time, mostly because the areas of the state I really love are far away from where the jobs are, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss living there.
My friend K shot me a message (or wrote on my wall, I really can’t remember which) via facebook and mentioned I probably missed the brilliant autumn colors in Michigan, if I missed anything. I actually consider Pennsylvania ever-so-slightly more stunning in the fall than Michigan; right now, the city seems swathed in gold. And there is something about the southern hills, rolling towards Appalachia, a blaze of reds, oranges and yellows, that simply makes my heart happy.
That said, there certainly are things I miss about Michigan, so on blustery cold Friday I present to you the Five Things I Miss About Michigan, someday to be countered with Five Things I Love About Pittsburgh:
Five Things I miss about Michigan:
1. My friends. Of course. From movies, shopping and cocktails with A to dinners and long chats downtown with M, from coffee and debates with K, not to mention my every-other-week writing group and all of S.’s friends from law school, I had a whole life. Here we are starting from scratch again and while we are very slowly making friends it is as arduous as it was at thirteen and I miss the easy phone calls, the easy friendships, S. and I both had in Michigan.
2. Schwarma! This is something my friend A turned me onto (rather late in my life as far as I’m concerned) – an amazing pita concoction with chicken (I think you can get lamb, too), pickles, garlic and some sort of Greek amazing sauce situation…it is 6:20 am and I want one right now. In fact, I miss Detroit’s Greek food culture in general…I couldn’t drive two miles without passing a coney, and despite the strip district’s Greek food store, the hummus and the baba ghanouj simply aren’t the same here.
3. Easy access to Big America – big movie theaters! Big malls! Big box stores! I will be the first to admit that I generally find distasteful our country’s determination to strip-mall the hell out of our landscape but I will also admit that, damn, when you want to go to Target, you want to go to Target. In Michigan this was as easy pointing your (as large as you want!) car in any direction, but here in Pittsburgh there are bridges and tunnels and rivers and buses and so it just generally takes an hour to go three miles. And then there is never any parking.
4. My gym. I LOVED my gym. I always thought of it as The Gym of Love. It’s located right in downtown Detroit, and it had it all – yoga, a pool, aerobics, beautiful equipment – and damn, the people there KNEW me. As soon as I walked in, Larry at the front desk would greet me by name, ask me about my day, tell me I was looking good – and it wasn’t a beautiful people gym at all. It was a place where folks in all shapes and sizes came together to improve their health. Now my gym is full of Carnegie Melon students, both a transient and rather stunning population, and unless I run into someone from work, nobody there knows me.
5. Summer. Okay, so of course Pittsburgh has summer too, but here it is a hot, steamy affair best passed wherever you can find air-conditioning and a cold drink. Of course, I haven’t yet been able to bring myself to attach to burger’s notion of summer, which includes all the local amusement parks, water parks and man-made revelry you can imagine, but perhaps someday I will. No, for me the notion of summer still means the smell of dried pine as you pull into the state park beach, long days on nearby beaches and just generally spending as much time outside as humanly possible. In Michigan, summer is approached with worship, and that I truly miss.
Happy Friday, all!