I wish I could travel more. You know, take a romantic trip with my compassionate, sexy, witty – and currently imaginary- beau to Paris or one of the many cities in Europe I visited while backpacking around after college. (Note to eligible suitors: no youth hostels or one-star pensions this time; otherwise I’m pretty low maintenance.)
Or, being the curious creature I am, I’d love to visit a faraway, exotic land to see and learn another culture firsthand.
Maybe I’d take that trip out to the pacific northwest, where my cousins have offered to take me around Portland and the Oregon coast…
Hell, at this point, I’d take a weekend at the Jersey shore.
But these places aren’t on the docket this summer. Instead, I’m in Michigan.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize I’m very lucky to have a supportive extended family, most of whom are based in the Great Lakes State. My relatives are kind people, and usually are polite enough not to remind me of the dysfunctional family qualities I’ve inherited. I’ve been blessed to know all of my grandparents and two of my great-grandparents. My grandmothers, ages 92 and 89, are still with us and I’m happy to have a chance to see them and to give my kids a chance to know them. Last night I even heard an interview, circa 1974, of my great-grandfather. He came over to the U.S. from Italy in 1900 at the age of 13. Now I have a copy of his history on CD.
So here I am. In Michigan. I’ll be coming back in a few weeks to meet up with college friends at the Ann Arbor art fair, and then most likely later in the summer for a reunion with another group of college friends. These aren’t the trips I dream of, but they seem to represent what has been the focus of my life these last few years: the value and history I share with family and good friends. I know a lot of people don’t have this.
I guess I can keep dreaming of the fun-filled, romantic trips a little longer.
Bonus feature: Things You Should Know About MI
I have created a new category, Ms. Know-It-All, to tell you about all the nifty things you should know. This is the first subject. You’ve been warned.
If you wonder what Michigan holds besides my network of family and friends, here are 5 things you should know:
1. Michiganders are about the nicest people you can find, but they will run you off the road in a heartbeat if you are going less than fifteen miles over the speed limit. In a blizzard.
2. Michigan has approximately 11,000 lakes. I am taking my uncle’s word on this one, but it does sound impressive, doesn’t it? This state has some lovely, scenic places, whether it be Mackinac Island, the Grand Traverse Bay or other quiet, tucked away places. By the way, can you name all 5 Great Lakes? I’ll give you a hint: besides raccoons, neighborhoods have a lot of these located in them.
3. Michigan is home to not one but two Big Ten schools: Michigan State University and The University of Michigan. Never, ever, EVER mix these up when you talk to alumni of either school. Ever. Doing this pales in comparison only to asking a graduate of either if they went to Ohio State.
For the record, I went to U of M.
4. Michigan schools rarely cancel classes because of snow, and surprisingly natives do not run to the grocery store at the mere mention of snow. They are smart enough to realize they have things called snow plows here and that the 35 convenience stores within a mile of every suburban home will carry milk. Pittsburghers, please take note and toughen up.
5. Every Michigander has the innate skill of knowing how to show people where they live by pointing to a place on their hand. Michigan is shaped like a mitten, if you didn’t know, and people here like to dazzle their out-of-state friends by giving them a friendly “talk to the hand” geography lesson at cocktail parties. Not that I’ve done this. Much. But I hear it can come in handy. Ha, handy.
Okay, time to go and see what’s going on. I’ve hidden away for enough time.
Paris, some day I will visit you again.