I live now in a city that is just a few cities over from the city in which I spent my youth. It’s part of a group of cities known as “Downriver,” meaning that it’s south of, or down the river from, the city of Detroit. I guess I don’t write about that much because unless you are from Michigan, or more specifically metro Detroit, it wouldn’t matter. Even some people from certain metro Detroit cities don’t know where Downriver is or know the cities that make it up, but they might think of the area as working class, where a steel mill once thrived, where post-war simple homes erupted and housed the masses. It’s that, but more.
Some people wear their upbringing here like a badge; others are ashamed of it. I knew I’d leave here and I did, but I came back. I’m neither proud or ashamed. I don’t really feel connected here, though. It’s the lake I feel in my soul.
My allegiance is to Lake Michigan; my sense of home is the feeling of sand under my feet.
It’s Friday night and I drove home from a friend’s house thinking about lacking this sense of home and of my upbringing, with my windows down, my moonroof open, music playing. If you don’t let the wind push your hair around or make you have goosebumps on your arms on a summer night, I’m not sure we can be friends. Let yourself feel some wind on your skin, and sing in your car. I don’t like to tell people what they should do, but do that.
Anyway. I have said many times in my life that I feel unmoored, trying to gain my footing. I have family, but I don’t have a great sense of my ancestry. I identify more with my dad’s side of the family, Italians, but I don’t know for sure why. I’m a lot like my mother (English, mostly) and also her sister. I feel like I should connect more with that. Will I know myself better by finding a sense of home in my ancestry? I’m not sure. And, have I created a sense of home, of attachment to place of some sort, for my children? I worry I haven’t. Will they know who they are, create their own sense of home?
A friend I care very much about told me today that I live in a world that is “fuzzy around the edges, fireflies, everything lavender, dreamy and lovely.” I will tell her how much that means to me, because that indeed is the world I want to live in. No hard edges. Full of love and good stuff. Sounds like a perfect home to me.
Summer is waning. This is the first year I don’t have a child starting school of some sort in the fall. This in itself feels like a huge shift, a change in time, a totally new and uncharted season. Almost unbearably sweet, like a too-ripe summer peach.