I went up to northern michigan last weekend to see two really good friends, leigh and barbarella, in traverse city. i haven't been up there in almost 10 years, and haven't really lived there since 1990, 17 years ago. In order to get there, I took the:
And during the trip, i saw the sun, slowly melting away my fear and prejudice of small town America:
Which turned into:
And later, the sun turned into this:
When i got to Grand Rapids and took a taxi to my charming little motel room at the grand rapids inn, which, paradoxically enough, wasn't in grand rapids, but in fucking WYOMING, Wyoming Michigan, that is. And then i finally found my room and this was the first thing i saw:
For those of you who don't know what you're looking at, this is a floor dryer. and why was this here? cuz the ENTIRE floor was wet. after i inspected the mattress, the pillowcases and top sheet, i did eventually fall asleep, after watching the USA tear a new asshole out of Venezuala in the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers on TV, but as i was falling asleep, the thought occurred to me: god, i hope it wasn't the toilet that overflowed on to the carpet.
The next day, i got a ride with my friend angie, who was downstate going to a wedding with her beau, bill, and her daughter, lydia. the ride was smooth enough. lydia put kept putting her feet on my lap, i bribed her with skittle gum and kidtalk, angie and i caught up on 2 years of lost time, and her boyfriend pretended to read a stephen king novel in the passenger's seat, listening to our every word. to be honest, it was kinda uncomfortable. but yo, i feel for him. it's never comfortable meeting some guy who thinks he's cool, especially when you haven't been with your girl very long and you don't feel, well, strong yet.
When we finally made it to Traverse City, the town was the way i remembered it: quaint, picturesque, at times, even charming. and i def noticed some changes:
This used to be an insane asylum. i'm not joking. but now it was home to an art gallery of local art and a fantastic restaurant called Stella's.
This used to be called La Cuisine Amical (without an "e," something every francophone has complained about), now, it's just called Amicale, and this time there's an "e" and i have no idea why. for all of you non-french speakers, imagine going to a small french village and seeing an american restaurant called "friendly."
This used to be a car repair place
This used to be called Dill's
This condo didn't exist 10 years ago
This used to be a stove-top store, that is, a store that basically sold grills and stove-top things. now, it's a little rascal store
This was a flower store
This used to be a gas station
This used to be a ghetto movie theater, and now's it where Michael Moore's hosts his international film festival. And, most impressively, an old warehouse was replaced by this:
But, some things were the way i remembered them:
The boardman river was still placid
The grid was still small
The park place hotel was still standing
The bay was still hiding behind the streets
Paesano's was still serving the same pizza slices
But i realized something while i was in up north. This is the real reason i went to Traverse City, for this reunion:
And something hit me. Some primal and nostalgic part of me thought that home was this:
My elementary school
My kindergarten playground
The football field where i used to walk around in circles with my friends in middle school to talk to cute girls, the place where i met Nadine Teeple, my first girlfriend, the place where i watched soccer games with my high school girlfrirend, Erica Lupiloff. But what started to dawn upon me was that this notion of home isn't fixed, it isn't static, it isn't geographical, it isn't a noun. it's something we create. home is a verb. home is this:
Appetite, nourishment, hunger. . . And:
Blurriness and celebration (with a doctored mojito). To me, home is:
A city of urban street art. To me, this is home:
The woman i love, getting an IV drip and looking at me with those eyes
Our Dog Zoe
A quiet cafe and:
A perfect drive through the chi. What I've completely and absolutely figured out this summer, especially as erika and i talk about moving to Spain or Argentina next summer, is that home is something i conjugate a little at a time each and every day like a table of verbs. it's not a fixed or synchronic place in my memory i hold on to, like a place holder, like a pause button, like a movie frozen in its own narrative, deracinated from its proper context and organic linearity. the truth is that memory is not something we pin down, it is constantly changing. our present point of view changes the framework by which we understand, frame and revisit the past.