It’s a conversation that happens around once a year, for me. Nearly the same exchange every time. One of my friends, or maybe my mother, will turn to me and remark, “You know, sometimes I wonder why I stay in Michigan. Then I see it in the fall.” This year, my friend Molly said it. Last year, it was my mother — absolutely normal conversations, repeated by the same people, and it makes me wonder.
Is that it? Personally, I like the fall a lot. It’s the time of year when I get to wander around in my jeans and a t-shirt; walking to and from class doesn’t leave me super cold; and it’s beautiful, of course. And it has Halloween! One of my favorite holidays. With all that in mind, I’d definitely say that fall is my favorite season. But, if I went to Indiana, Ohio or Illinois, I’m pretty certain that fall would be about the same. I would just have to stick around in a more tree-y location, and then it should look and be about the same. Fall isn’t why I stay in Michigan.
Why, then? I hate the cold so much. Winter sucks. I hate the heat so much, too. Summer sucks. I don’t really like to swim, so the Great Lakes don’t draw me. I’m not dedicated to any of the sports teams. What else about Michigan truly makes it Michigan? Aside from the incessant U-turns, I couldn’t tell you. I’ve lived here my entire life, and moving has never sounded particularly appealing. Even when I was younger and thought that moving to Florida or Georgia meant my family would go to Disney World a lot more, becoming a ‘Floridian’ never sounded super appealing.
There was a period in middle school when my family legitimately thought that we were going to have to move to Illinois for my father’s job. It was terrible. I didn’t want to go, none of my friends wanted me to leave and I remember just reassuring them at least once a week that no, I hadn’t heard anything new. It didn’t quite pan out, and I’m honestly so alright with that.
After all, being a Michigander is fun. A goose, living in a mitten. That’s pretty darn Michigan right there — we’re birds, and if we want to point out where we live to someone (and live in the lower peninsula), we just hold up our hand and point. Is that’s what’s uniquely Michigan? Our massive variation in the weather department, our U-turns, geese and mitten map? I can’t think of anything else, but that might just be because it all seems so normal to me.
I like the fall. And I like Michigan — but I don’t like Michigan just because of the fall. It’s a bit more than one season.