Home Is Where the Heart Is

Longtime Michigan resident, Maria Almaguer, describes her homesickness after recently moving out of state in another touching guest blog post. Read her story, and those just like it, here on Pure Michigan Connect!

I now believe that a place gets imprinted on your psyche after so many years. All my life (I’m 42), I’ve lived in Michigan; born in Detroit, raised in Allen Park and Rochester Hills. During college, I lived in Ann Arbor; then, after I got married, we lived in Royal Oak, Detroit, and then back to Royal Oak. While in Royal Oak, we attended many local events including the now-defunct Detroit Cityfest, the Clay & Glass Show, and the world’s biggest garage sale. And on Saturdays, we got our produce at the Farmers Market.

My favorite vacation spots have mostly been on the west side of the state: South Haven, Ludington, and Manistee; the sandy beaches there are amazing! We have friends in Petoskey so we also love that area but I find the drive easier to the west. My husband has fallen in love with the Porcupine Mountains in Ontonagon in the Upper Peninsula, where he has taken several vacations.

So here we are, but I find that I am missing Michigan like crazy, like I never thought I would. I miss all of our parks (we’re big nature lovers)–they’re free here, but you get what you pay for: some unkempt trails, absent park staff, and dirty restrooms. I miss the big water and all of the lakes that were so close by. When we drove two hours to Presque Isle State Park to see Lake Erie, I cried when I saw it.

But I do know that I will return someday. Sometimes it takes leaving a place to appreciate just how much it means to you. Every time I even see the word “Michigan” anywhere, or when someone tells me they are going to northern Michigan for a vacation, I feel homesick. When we visit, a big part of me just wants to move right back.

I realize that a large part of what I miss is the comfort and familiarity, but that’s what Michigan will always mean to me. It’s home!

Love you, Michigan; I’ll be back!

Maria Almaguer is a nature-loving vegan and public librarian who has never lived anywhere else except Michigan her entire life until this past summer (& misses it terribly). She writes a food blog, Chocolate Onion.

  • Susan Saylor Cryderman

    I believe one day you will be back too! My husband and I moved out of the state many years ago for a period of about ten years. We moved all over the country and saw many wonderful places, but when the opportunity came for our final move, we came ‘home’ to Michigan. This wonderful place of beauty that beckons one back to it. The place where we felt most comfortable hanging our hat.

    I so enjoyed your post and felt the pain of homesickness you are feeling. I know…I’ve been there.

    Will look forward to hearing from you again when you can return to the place you grew up loving :)

    Blessings,

  • Rebecca Sabet

    I know what she means. I’ve lived in exile (that’s what I consider it) here in Florida for almost 10 years and all I can think about is getting back to Michigan. She’s right when she says a place becomes imprinted on your psyche. Michigan isn’t just a state. It’s a state of mind.

  • http://carolinedobbins.wordpress.com Caroline

    I am a college student, born and raised in Albion, MI but I’m spending a semester in Philadelphia, PA and I find myself missing a little more of Michigan each day. It is a wonderful place no matter what anyone says and I’m proud to call it home.

    Nothing beats, Northern, MI the first week in October when the colors are perfect!

  • Jessi Bamberg

    I read your post and it made me feel a little better. I’ve lived in MI my whole life, take away the last two months. My husband found work in VA, so we moved… I am sooo ready to go back. There is nothing like MI, it really is Home. Glad to hear I’m not the only one to feel this way. Thank you very much!
    P.S. I am tired of being called a Yankee! Yes I’m from MI & Darn proud of it!

  • Georgina Palmer

    I want to cry when I read these posts about Michigan, because I so love it so much too. Born and raised here, I don’t want to live anywhere else.

  • kathie

    have been gone for 20 years. miss it everyday. there is no water here in south central pa. next year, COMING HOME. you have no idea what is means to miss the great lakes until you don’t have them near you. have a beach cam of lake michigan at manistee. look at it several times a day. saw a freighter and thought i would never stop smiling. funny what you take for granted.

  • Linda Slade Szaflarski

    I read your post and felt such empathy! I moved away from Michigan in 1972 to get a teaching job in Florida. I had no idea it would take me 30 years to get back “HOME’. I moved back to Michigan after 30 years of teaching in Florida. Since I left when age 18…there was for sure, adjustments to make regarding the snow and cold winters –but I LOVE this state and I’m so thankful I got to come back!

  • Jodi Cudney

    My husband and I were also born and raised in Michigan. We live in VA also, we have been here for 20 years. Our vacations are always back home. We hear, isn’t this your home and to that we say once a Michigander always a Michigander!! We are still called Yankees too, sometimes even damn yankees because we have stayed. Been home 3 times this year and it has been well worth the 12 hour drive each time. We ride ATVs and have brought them with us for 2 trips to Silver Lake Sand Dunes this year. The sunset side rocks!!

  • Laura M Parker

    I lived in Chicago for much of my adult, and a few years ago I moved to Lansing, Illinois. Besides it being the name of my home state capital, I was actually trying to get closer to Michigan, my home, and my family. Well, it doesn’t take quite so long to get home now. Thanks for your beautiful reminder of what a special place Michigan is – even Oakland and Wayne counties. And thank for the photos you posted.

  • Evelyn Alsup

    Maria, thank you so much for sharing your homesickness with us all. I left Michigan twelve years ago when I married my husband who is from Oklahoma. I have been back only four or five times since and, much like you, I am moved to tears by the beauty of my Michigan. I long for the day I’ll be able to move back home where I am surrounded by nature at its finest.

  • Rebecca Lyman

    Twenty seven years in California have about killed me, not least because this is supposed to be the center of earth to so many: temperate weather and outdoor life style. Few get what I am missing. But I miss the seasons of Michigan–staying in one place as beauty changes all around you from the burning trees of autumn through frosty winter to unbearable March and then SPRING and summer with FRESH WATER lakes. Where else would we want to be from? A place of ordinary extraordinary beauty with friendly low-key people. Be home soon!

  • Michelle Kay

    Soooo feeling that same way…last year I moved from Harbor Springs to FL. We were alway so grateful for each day in that beautiful little town of northern bliss and miss it terribly now. The kids ask me daily, “When can we go home Mom?”. It calls my name strongly each day, beconning me back to simplicity, great people, nature galore, and a quietness that speaks to you forever…

  • Gerald Gibbons

    Sept. 2010 I rode my 2008 Goldwing motorcycle to an over night in Iron Mt., thru the Porkies, stayed in Copper Harbor, over the color lighted Big Mac at sunset, Mackinaw City, tour of Wilderness State Park, on to Good Hart and the “Tunnel of Trees” on M-119, on toward Traverse City, then down to my home in Barry County. I began my trip by way of Battle Creek to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, Alexandria, Duluth. The other states were cool but I really got excited when I crossed the border at Iron Mountain. Tripping thru Michigan’s U.P. was sooo relaxing and beautiful. I wished I could have spent more time in the U.P. I guess I will need to make a return trip – just wish the spouse would join me – she doesn’t like riding on my new Wing.

  • Joanna Duchon

    The perfect description of Michigan: “It’s a state of mind”. I absolutely love that! I left Michigan for AR seven years ago and still missing it much more than anticipated. I still have my 2003 Metropark pass! I return at least once every year and every time I cross that state line my eyes well up and with a huge grin I say aloud “I’m home”. I reacted much the same when I read some of these earlier posts because they’re sooo relatable. It’s wonderful that every time I meet someone from Michigan there’s mutual a kinship felt with that person. For those who may be interested, upon my last visit I stopped in the rest area on I-75 just north of Toledo and when I asked about the availability of “Pure Michigan” tee shirts/clothing the gal said they should be on the website for purchase in October/November. Something to keep us connected :) I wish you all the best and “happy returns” to our beloved Michigan!

  • Annette

    Maria…yes, I’m an Ohio resident but we have vacationed in MI since I was barely 3 (I’m 56!) on Green Lk. at Interlochen…I also worked at the camp 3 yrs. My heart aches to be there…I could live in a shack on that lk. and never care to go anywhere else. If fate had it…I would have stayed there and lived. We vacationed with family all those yrs. as I was growing-up, married and brought our 2 girls up. I lost both my folks this yr…they loved the area as well. I probably know the TC area better than some people. I keep hoping some soul will feel sorry for me and leave me a tiny little lot on a lk. up there where I could be content the rest of my life. Our daughter married a MI guy 2 yrs. ago and our other daughter is dating a MI guy…MI has had a rough couple yrs. as Ohio and some other surrounding states but…I’d live in MI any day if I could.

  • RUTH S

    I TOOO HAVE BEEN TAKEN AWAY, FROM MY WONDERFUL STATE!!!! BORN AND RAISED IN MICH. UP UNTIL 1978, WHEN MY HUSBAND, HAD TO FIND WORK ELSEWHERE! WE CAME BACK FOR 10 SHORT YEARS IN 1983, ONLY TO MAKE ANOTHER MOVE TO THE HAWKEYE STATE!!!!! I HATE THIS PLACE MORE EVERYDAY! I COME BACK TO MI. AS OFTEN AS I CAN FOR VISITS. I LONG FOR THE DAY I CAN LEAVE HERE FOREVER, AND COME BACK HOME! I MISS THE BEAUTIFUL, PARKS, LAKES, ALL THE SCENERY! BUT MOST OF ALL MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS! ” IT TRULY IS HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS”

  • David Fischer

    I was born in Bay City,Michigan and lived my first 15 years there.I return every year.This year I went to Tawas City/Oscoda/Lumbermans Monument 4 times.I went to Mackinac Island/Mackinaw City/St.Ignace a record 6 times.I probably need to retire there.I never can get enough of the beautiful water and forest.Somewhere in Time was filmed on Mackinac Island.

    David Fischer Villa Hills,Kentucky

  • http://www.chocolateonion.blogspot.com Maria Almaguer

    Thanks for your kind words, everyone! Michiganders (or Michiganians, whichever you prefer) are the best!!

  • Jenny

    Maria, I loved your post about missing Michigan! Your feelings are so pure & true when it comes to our lovely state! I am 41 and have lived here my whole life, I have traveled to other states for visits……but would never move permanently! Some of our best vacations were taken in the U.P and other parts of the state.
    P.S. YOU WILL BE BACK, IT IS CALLED “COMING FULL CIRCLE!”

  • Sharon Litwin

    I so agree with what you say.. I was born, lived in Michigan most of my life.. I’ve lived away for past 12 years .. in Missouri I have a beautiful home ,its beautiful here..the mountains, lakes.. we have it all here.. but the thing is ..”My Heart is still in Michigan”..I feel like no matter how hard I try to be happy..I’m just not..we go back often for visits to family& friends.. I’m always ready to get back for the comforts of my own home, but within days I’m wanting to return..Michigan is just where my SOUL wants to be…

  • tara

    I just came back to Michigan this year after spending 14 years in Alaska. Summer 2010, my daughter and I took a little trip to the sand dunes by lake michigan. What a site! Then we traveled east to oscoda and then south again. I have plans to go back to Alaska when my son who lives with his dad graduates. I just want to say that some areas of michigan are just as beautiful as alaska just different. I had forgotten how beautiful michigan really is and now i am torn because the thought of moving to west Michigan has me thinking. I also wanted to tell you that if Lake Erie made you cry dont go to the Canadian Rockies or Denalli unless you want to ball your eyes out. The Rockies is what got me. lol

  • Scott J.

    Michigan has been a subconscious whisper inside of me for a few years now beckening me to return. I was born and raised in Western Michigan until I joined the military in `91 and moved away. I spent time in Illinois, New Mexico, California, and now reside in Arizona where I have enjoyed the past 14yrs. I love it here! But there is something about Michigans beauty that cant be beat. I think you have to have been born in, and grew up in Michigan, to realy understand that internal calling and desire to get back to Michigan. I was back for a weekend in the summer of 2009 and it was just a blip of time in life and it didnt cure my itch for a return to marvelous Michigan. Michigan….I will be back!

  • Mary Garner

    There isn’t much more to be said. I think you all have just about covered it! Just a “praise to God” that after 27 years we are going back home! We are originally from the Detroit area but fell in love with the West Coast many years ago. My husband transferred to Grand Rapids in September and I am just impatiently waiting to follow.
    Mary in Taylor Mill, Ky.

  • Jan Shafer-Bunting

    I was born and raised in Michigan, moving away when I was 18 – to Texas of all places (my sister and brother-in-law were stationed there)! I couldn’t hardly understand them! l0l I didn’t really start to miss Michigan until several years later, now married, moving from Texas to Virginia, to Tennessee (2 places), S. Carolina, eastern Kentucky and then here in middle Kentucky. I was able to visit Michigan for the first time since leaving, in 2000 and that just whet my appetite for much more. Unfortunately, there were no real opportunities until last year, my husband agreed that we could take a trip up to the UP (camping) and then back down the west “coast” on the way back to KY. I planned each detail, each lighthouse, each park with much anticipation as well as a little dread – would it be as wonderful as my memories seemed it to be? The UP with all its lighthouses was absolutely tremendous and all was perfection, starting with the beautiful little campgroud with our site, literally on the shores of Lake Superior. But the real point of anticipation with Manistee with its Orchard Beach State Park. I had not seen it since I was 15. Over the years, I would occasionally close my eyes and imagine that the sound of the wind blowing through the trees was that of the sound heard while walking on the trail of the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan at Orchard Beach. I’d close my eyes and try to remember the smell of the wooden steps down to the Beach. I was on pins and needles as we got closer to Orchard Beach….then we drove in, and as I opened my eyes (yes, I had actually closed them I was so nervous), I gasped at how beautiful and pristine it was. The trees had grown so much in all those years, but many, many elements of the park had not changed a bit. As my husband set up the trailer, I immediately ran up the hill to once again walk on that trail overlooking the beautiful Lake Michigan. I can’t put into words how I felt, but I’m sure there will be some reading this, that have had that exact same experience. As for Kentucky? You can keep it. If it weren’t for my son who will probably get married and stay here, I would be helping plan our retirement years in Michigan.

  • Applesauceinn Bandb

    I know the feeling! I moved out of Michigan 20 years ago to Northern California. Missed the Mitten state very much, and we now have just returned and bought a little B&B in Belliare, MI. The challenge of owning and running a small business in this economy remain, but very grateful to be home again!

    Jamie~your Innkeeper
    Applesauce Inn Bed & Breakfast
    Beautiful Bellaire, Mi

  • Lisa

    I am taking a mind vacation via web to all things Michigan. I miss the place to. I now call Kentucky home. Kentucky is beautiful as well, but home is home. Thanks for the nice thoughts for this homesick girl to return to. Will be back soon.

  • Curt

    I have really enjoyed reading all the testimonials about Michigan. My feelings I’ve had for 50 years about this beautiful state have been validated. I’ve resided in Ohio for 55 of my 59 years and the people around here give me a strange look when I start talking about Michigan. That’s because they have never bothered to travel up there to see what all there is to enjoy. Believe me, if Ohioans would vacation in Michigan one time during the summer, there would be no animosity between the two states (I’ve found most of the animosity originates in Ohio). Everyone in Michigan has always treated us first class after I tell them where we’re from.
    As everyone knows, the economy has been very tough in Ohio as well. The only reason I mention it is because we have been unable to make our annual visit since 2006. Considering our every August visit was by far and away my most special time of the year (including Christmas); it has been pretty tough. I know God will create a way for us to come up one of these years!
    A closing thought: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a get-together of Michigan lovers (such as the ones that have included posts on this site)! They sound like very special people and a celebration of our Michigan experiences would make for a weekend to be cherished.
    Curt
    Dayton, Ohio

  • http://www.chocolateonion.blogspot.com Maria Almaguer

    I was just thinking about starting something similar, but for me here in Pittsburgh. You know, find several transplanted Michiganders and get together every once in awhile for a meetup (and network of support!) of sorts.

  • dawn

    Hello fellow Michiganders! Igre up up the Burton area (“Burtucky we call it:), near Flint. I always had a desire to move out of state so I did live in PA for a while, Chicago (LOVED Chi-town) and now have been in AZ for 6 years…all in all I’ve been living out of state about 10years consecutively. Now, I’m ready to GO HOME to MI as I miss my old friends and especially my family. I’m really close to my dad an my sisters and it stink I only see them about once a year. I’m 41 now and priorities have changed…I’ve had my fun and now I realize there is nothing _not a job, a state or money_that can ever take the place of family. It is true that “home is where the heart is”…my heart is in MI…economy or not, AZ in the same economy slump!
    Go blue! Dawn

  • dawn

    I meant “I grew up in Burton.” I type too fast! Dawn

  • http://www.chocolateonion.blogspot.com Maria Almaguer

    Dawn, I know what you mean. I’m 42 and I feel I now know what is most important: family, friends, & relationships. When do you get to go home to MI? Hope it’s soon!

  • Lorie

    I love everyone’s posts!! I feel the same way about Michigan it is so special and amazing. And just like some said, when you meet anyone from MI you feel this instant Kinship. My parents moved my three sisters and I to California back in 1983. And I have been the only one who has wanted to move back ever since. I have traveled back and forth so many times with my daughter who just turned 17 today 5/9/11. My daughter has the best memories from MI also and would love to move there. I had the best years of my life in Michigan, the most beautiful place, and in my heart it will always be home. I only wish I could convince my parents and sisters to move back with us. :( I will keep praying!!!!!!! And never give up hope that everything will turn around for Michigan one day. I will continue to plant the seeds and be an Ambassador for my Home Sweet Home…Michigan!! :) ♥♥♥

  • susan

    I thought I was alone, I was born and raised in Kalamazoo until I was 11. We moved to Illinois, but my heart comes alive when I think about the sandy beaches and warm water in South Haven. The trees seem to grow greener and the fruit grows sweeter in Michigan. My Father still lives in the area where I grew up, Michigan will always be home. Im just on “vacation” here in Illinois for the job.

  • Holly

    My heart goes out to all of you, as I’m a homesick Michigander too! Moved away 8 years ago, and now live in Coastal Georgia. A very big culture shock, but making the best of it. Most vacations are spent back home, as my family renuites with loved ones, and enjoys the beauty of MI! Departures get harder and harder…And this economy has made it even more difficult:( I just cross my fingers and pray that we can all be home sooner than later…And my kids can attend MI schools!! Go Blue!!

  • Mike

    I agree, there should be a support group for people who desire to be back home! I grew up outside of Traverse City and for the past 6 years have lived in West Virginia, which is a great state, but I often find myself with my eyes closed trying to put myself back home next to the water, hearing the waves and smelling the air. I never took for granted my life
    “up north” , from the beginning i always knew how lucky I was to call it home. I did so much more than just work and come home and sleep, I lived the whole idea and state of mind that is Northern MI. We spend all of our vacation time back home to get our fix which only gets us through for a while. My wife and 6 year old son probably desire the Michigan life more than me. She is from WV and would prefer going to MI over anywhere else even in the winter. Never thought I would crave driving 3 hrs to Lake Erie so i could feel connected to michigan. Hopefully a “coming full circle” event is out there for me someday!! GO GREEN!!

  • Solongmaryann

    I hear you girl. I have been abroad for the last 10 years and the more time passes the more I miss MI and all things I associated with it: cider mills, Sleeping Bear Dunes, four seasons, summer thunder storms, the leaves changing color in the fall, pumpkin flavoured everything, camping and making smores, the Art Deco and industrial landscapes of Detroit, the music scene, and most of all my family and friends who still live there.

  • Curran

    I have been away from MI for the past 7 years. I thought I would not miss the place, but I have come to realize that I just want to move back home. I have been living in AZ for the past two years, and after a couple of summers, I feel like I need the cold, the seasons, the rain, and the ability that MI offers.
    I am a geologist that is looking for any job in environmental or Earth science, as long as its back home.

  • http://www.michigan.org heart sick

    I am going threw it right now. Miss Michigan living in Florida been in Florida a year and all I want to do is go back home. It takes money and patience which I fined i am running out of patience, all I want to do is jump in my car and drive up there right now. I have people telling me its a bad move the economy is worse no jobs you wont make it. And crime is high. I am sad wondering if I am making wrong choice. If it is as bad as they say. Will I return to home sweet home to fined that they were right.

  • Jane

    I grew up in Detroit and graduated form MSU and EMU. Became a Red Wings fan prenatally since my mother was cheering on the Wings during the 1952 Stanley Cup playoffs while pregnant with me. I spent the first 32 years of my life in Michigan and the last 30 here in Northern California. I want to spend the next and last 30 back “home.” I never got over missing Michigan. A friend here told me my face lights up whenever I talk about Michigan. I went back there for the first time this past October (2013) and instantly fell back in love with it. The first words I said when I got off the plane back here in Sacramento was, “I’m moving back to Michigan.” I appreciate knowing its not just me.