Friday, June 16, 2017
Traverse City, Michigan
I wasn’t ready to go yet, but that’s always the case when check out time rolls around.
“Let’s do something around town,” I said to J.
“My love, I have to work.”
A compromise. I dropped him off at this minimalistic hipster coffee shop on the edge of town in between a terrarium store and a place that sells furniture for the 1%. Cute watering can, though. $50 dollars? I can water two plants with this.
I walked back downtown by myself. A brief foray into Cherry Republic and then into Brilliant Books because we had been to Horizon earlier. I like Brilliant better — it’s cozier and organized in a way that prevents me from leaving without spending at least twenty dollars.
I browsed a bit and then moseyed over toward one of the booksellers.
“So, here’s the thing. I’m not from here and we’re leaving today and I’m hoping—”
“Oh, where you from?”
“Downstate originally… Kalamazoo. But I’ve—”
“Ah! Kalamazoo! I lived down there for a few years for—”
“Oh, nice! Where?”
We interrupted each other for ten minutes talking about Kalamazoo. The conversation eventually lulled. I lingered, dumb and staring.
“Soooo, what brings you in today?” People in the midwest are socially generous.
“Right. We have to leave today and I don’t want to go.” I left it there because it was already awkward and I wanted to test this socially gracious person because I have a black and rotting soul.
A quizzical look.
“You’ve gotta have something in here about Michigan, right? Michigan stories?”
He wrinkled his nose.
“You like Jim Harrison?”
“The Legends of the Fall guy?”
“He was from up here?” I vaguely knew he was from Michigan, but didn’t realize he had lived so close. Leelanau County, it turns out.
The bookseller walked me over to a section with only his books, handing me a copy of True North.
“Trust me,” he said.
A lucky encounter in Suttons Bay.
A high school friend who I haven’t seen in a few years. His wife, on whom I have a schoolboy crush. The first day of their Up North vacation was the last day of ours. We had some beers at Hop Lot. They have two cool kids, but seemed happy to have time away.
“We’re having some other friends join us, another couple.”
“They just moved from Ann Arbor to Holland.”
“Oh, god!” I cried.
A few beers. Slightly drunk.
We still had to fit in our usual standbys: Glen Arbor, and the Sleeping Bear Dunes.
Road construction; stopped in the middle of nowhere. Inappropriate advances from my fiance.
There’s a woman—a construction worker—holding a stop sign ten feet away from us. She looks like a Gerry. Well, Gerry with the guys, her crew. Geraldine, perhaps, when she gets gussied up.
What if she sees?
“My love, you can have a hot dog at the Pine Cone.”