Guest Post: Nostalgia is a wonderful place to visit but no place to live

I was pleasantly surprised to see an email Friday from Collette submitting her entry for our sixth Living Out Loud project. Feel free to comment on this entry here so that she can review them and reply at her leisure.

As a Michigander born and bred when someone asks me where I’m from I hold up my hand, thumb out and use my five-fingered map. The spot I point to is on the border between Birmingham and Troy—house in Birmingham, front yard in Troy. Back then Birmingham had a reputation of being a bunch of snooty types so my sisters and I told people we lived just outside of Troy. We grew up catching tad poles and crayfish in the pond at the end of the street and reading books as high up in the mulberry tree as we could climb. We had rail road tracks in our back yard and hid under the bridge to hear the echoing roar as the puffer bellies rolled past.

Like any native Michigander I learned to love Awreys Cookies, Saunders hot fudge sauce, Strohs ice cream and Vernor’s Ginger ale—even though the rest of the nation thought of it as carbonated kerosene. Summer meant baseball on WJR, Thanksgiving means watching the Lions lose whoever they were playing. I’ve walked the Mackinaw Bridge, watched the locks at the Sault and dipped my toes into all five of the Great Lakes.

While I’ve happily kept my claim to Michigan (Go Blue!) my professional life has moved me to Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana. Living in five states and changing street addresses thirteen times since leaving home I’ve seldom had time to grow deep roots so home is wherever my mother lives and my family gathers for Christmas to make a quilt for a homeless shelter and take a five-mile hike after dinner. With Mom almost 94 I wonder how long before I’m 'homeless'.

Nostalgia is a wonderful place to visit but no place to live. My future home will be on Maui. My friends and I have gone often enough that we’re often called on to give directions and make suggestions to the malihini (tourists). When they ask “do you live here?” we smile and say “not yet”.