We are proud to share this touching guest blogger submission from Richard Parrish
Well, I can’t let this opportunity pass without writing some ideas about a favorite state of mine, Michigan.
I moved there in late summer of 1987, to teach writing at Michigan State University, and I had never lived out of my home state of Texas, until then. I had only been to Michigan once, to an airport hotel in Detroit where I had my interview, so I knew nothing really about the place until I moved there.
I had heard that Northerners were distant, sometimes cold people, but I found just the opposite to be true. Within a matter of days, I had met a lifelong friend, and although I no longer live in Michigan now, she and I stay in touch over the miles. That first autumn, she opened her home to me, so that I wouldn’t have to spend my first big holiday, Thanksgiving, alone, and her family was just as wonderful and warm as she.
About six months into my first year in Michigan, I drove from Lansing over to Lake Michigan, which I had seen before but never in winter; that February day, with snow covering the ground and a sub-zero temperature, I pulled up as close as I could to the lake and just sat silently and looked at what was before me. Ice had formed on part of the lake, and everything was either white or a steely gray, except for the sun which shone that afternoon. It was a dark pink, and its reflection also shone in the water. I remember thinking that Texas had been the place of my birth but that I was home in Michigan. Michigan State had given me my first full-time college teaching experience, and Michigan had showed me that I could make it on my own, with family over a thousand miles away.
Each autumn, although I don’t live in Michigan now, I revisit in my mind the glorious
colors–the bright yellows, oranges, and reds of those days–and I envy residents who live there now and enjoy the beauty of the season. And each spring, I recall the glorious warm weather and new foliage that seemed so vibrant after the long, frigid colds of January and February. I smile at the memory of my freshmen and sophomore students at MSU, tired of long winters, out on the green in front of Brody Hall, playing Frisbee and wearing t-shirts and walking shorts. They, too, were celebrating the new life of springtime.
There is something remarkable about Michigan, unlike any other state I have ever visited. It’s in the people, an independent and yet caring,
warm populous; it’s in the ever-changing seasons that keep boredom away; it’s in the uniqueness of a state separated from almost all other US states by large bodies of water; it’s in the old state motto, “Michigan: the Feeling Is Forever.” For me, the feeling most definitely IS forever. I hold the state close to my heart and appreciate the opportunities and friendships it afforded me, and I encourage anyone, individuals or families, to do much more than just think about a visit. No one can be disappointed with a visit to Michigan, and one of these days, when circumstances are right, I will return myself for a visit to a very special place. Until then, I hold on to the special feeling of Michigan that I hold in my heart.