Michigan Memories…

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.  

Winter Sunset on Lake Michigan

Winter Sunset on Lake Michigan

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

Fall on MSU campus

Fall on MSU campus

 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.

  • Jill

    Wow, Richard! it’s just the opposite for me. I grew up in Michigan and moved to Texas in 1980. Almost 30 years later I still miss Michigan and would move back if my husband could get a job up there.

    Good post. Great description of the Big Lake in winter. :)

  • gail hein

    Richard I have lived in Texas 32 years and I miss Michigan every day. You are so right about the people in Michigan- when I come home twice a year the people are the best part of my stay. Autumn is my favorite time of year and I am looking forward to my visit this October.

  • Richard Parrish

    Thank you for your comments, Jill and Gail. I, also, miss Michigan very much. And Gail, I envy the fact that you will be visiting soon. One of these days, I will, too. One of my best feelings is that of crossing under that Michigan sign as I head north out of Indiana. When I see that sign, I know I’ve arrived back in a very special place.

    Good wishes to both of you ladies.