I’m a Texas Michigander. Or maybe it’s a Michigan Texan, I’m not quite sure. Regardless of the formalities, when I moved to North Texas in 2009 I was admittedly surprised by the beauty of the area. I’m ashamed to say that Texas has a reputation amongst Midwesterners as being, well, ugly. So when I experienced my first spring bombarded by the beauty of bluebonnets and crepe myrtles, I fell in love. Sure, it’s a little flat and in the summer the concrete is hotter than a habanero, but I love this place. It’s my home.
Or is Michigan my home? I spent the first two decades of my life, my formative years, if you will, in northern Michigan. If you’ve never been there, imagine strolling the hills of Tyrol with your pet goat wearing a pair of lederhosen. (You can add your own yodel for extra effect.) Every summer I pack up the boys and make my annual pilgrimage to the motherland to see my family, and every year I find myself awed by the beauty of the place where I grew up.
It’s literally like stepping onto the set of The Sound of Music. Everything is green, hilly, lush, and breathtaking. Yards have white-picket fences and flowerbeds are overflowing with whimsical flowers that fry in Texas, the hydrangeas, the hostas, the peonies…And the water? Don’t get me started on the water. It’s no secret that Michigan has an abundance of lakes, and, after five years of playing in the red clay water of the metroplex, I’m amazed at the frigid clarity of the lakes of my youth.
Things are slower in the little town I grew up in. Everyone knows everyone else. People gift each other pies and jam from their latest crop of raspberries. The local bookstore had a huge display for Holding Avery just because I grew up there, even though now I’m just another tourist. Northern Michigan is a special place, a place of immense beauty, a place that takes care of its own.
But I eventually found myself missing my other home. Maybe it was because it got so cold one night that I had to go to Walmart and buy a pair of fleece pants to sleep in. Maybe it was because my Texas-bred boys kept complaining and shivering and turning blue every time they went for a swim. Perhaps it was because I had to run three miles up a hilly dirt road to get cell service. But when it was time to head south, I was ready.
I’ve been “home” for two weeks now, and it’s good to be back. I missed the sunshine, the heat, the endless blue sky, the sushi…But now that I’m home, I find myself missing northern Michigan, too. They say that home is where the heart is. If that’s true, then I guess I just have two hearts.