Serial Anna

Yes! to Michigan!
August 5, 2009, 3:31 am
Filed under: Michigan Love | Tags: , , , , , ,

Last week I was given the task of introducing a loved one to Michigan. Well, I wasn’t in it alone. From the minute Silvia announced she was going to be able to come to Michigan, I knew there was a group of people ready to show her an authentic and hard-won good time. I had to stop myself from showing her too much in order to enjoy the time we had.

As you may have heard, Michigan has kind of an image problem. Anthony Bourdain described Detroit as a city that’s “fucked up.” I’m sure if you’ve seen a photo essay about the city in the past six months, you’d agree with him.

Yet Michigan is as vibrant and dynamic as it’s ever been in the 26 years of my life. Admittedly, I’ve never been alive to see Detroit’s, or even Michigan’s heyday, and admittedly, I live 40 solid miles from the city of Detroit, but to me, Michigan is a playground for creative thinkers and raw talent. Rent is cheap, friendships are solid as oak, and M-75 calls you to Northern Michigan on all the weekends where you can scrounge together gas money and a carful of friends.

I live by a motto that describes this place well: we make our own fun. We make horror movies in the woods. We dance twice monthly at the Elks Club Lodge. We write incessantly, and some of us write exceptionally well (uh, hello Jeffrey Eugenides and Ernest Hemingway!). We rock and roll. Detroit is the only city that could have raised a guy like Jack White of The White Stripes, from a Polish family with nine (or so) siblings. It is also the city of Eminem, of course, and Sufjan Stevens.

Michigan is the setting for scores of recent and upcoming films; take Whip It for example. The rural roads and pathways you see in the movie’s trailer might look like anywhere else, but they are only 5 miles away from Ann Arbor, home of Google AdSense, Border’s Headquarters and one of the top public schools in the country. You can walk everywhere in Ann Arbor, but we have plenty of culture to walk to. Ann Arbor is also home to 826 Michigan, a non-profit writing center for kids.

When Silvia came, I made sure that she had a Bell’s Oberon. So did everyone else. My friend Erin attempted to describe the feeling of tasting your first Oberon of the summer. After my friend’s rehearsal dinner in Glen Arbor, we all headed over to Art’s Tavern. We drank pitchers of Oberon, all 20 or so of us.

While I hesitate to use a local (well, regional) beer as a metaphor, let’s visit the comparison: an Oberon is a wheat beer, easily drinkable, tasting of orange. Non-beer drinkers have been said to be content with this beer, but I also know die-hard beer fans who swear by an Oberon on an August evening just shy of dusk. So yeah, we’re beer drinkers here in Michigan. But we are mild and welcoming. We make our own fun. We are a vibrant community.

Over the past few years, I’ve stumbled across a lot of people who are committed to sticking with Michigan and its offerings. It would be easy to spend my whole life here and still miss something. Whether or not I stay, Michigan has really served me well. Yet I’ve mostly only lived here, and I dream of finding new homes on further shores. I feel the tug to leave and explore, but I do feel that it’s so I can one day come back.

Finally, I must say that the people of Michigan are built of solid character. We can be serious and funny, all in one sentence (think sad clown– wait, don’t). We make great lifelong friends. We also make great lovers. If you stumble across a Michigander you think is cute, I would recommend¬† you take him/her out on a date. As a people, we are a catch, and how could we not be with all the freshwater fish surrounding us on three sides?¬† …Right???