The Love Letter to Michigan I’d Never Thought I’d Write

Lake weeds have always been my least favorite part of swimming. They grab at your ankles, threatening to pull you under and suffocate you. I’m not afraid of much, but the thought of getting trapped always made my chest tighten.

It’s the same tightness I feel now. I never thought it was possible to feel claustrophobic in a city. It’s a strange feeling, cornered among endless buildings and held hostage by countless high-heel events.

Don’t get me wrong, being in Washington D.C. has been a whirlwind. It’s a classic Midwest-Girl-Meets-City-Life story. I’m learning what it means to network, to use the metro, to be yelled at on a street. I’ve been published, I’ve been lost, I’ve bought far too much expensive food.

But a few weeks ago, I tried to explain to some friends what it’s like to miss trees.  They looked at me like I was insane.

I stumbled over my tongue, trying to paint for them what it’s like to drive through the autumn canopies that make the pot-holed roads glitter gold. I showed them pictures of the lake at sunset. I tried to describe the feeling of grass between your toes.

But we have grass here.

Yes. But it’s not the same.

I guess I thought summer was the same everywhere. That golden sun didn’t need a sprawling field to be beautiful or that a starry night would be the same even without campfire lungs.

I forgot the stars don’t shine as brightly here.

I’ve spent most of my time planning how to get out of Michigan. Sure, it’s where I want to settle eventually, but I also wanted to see beyond it first. I still do.

But on summer nights, it’s hard not to miss the comfortable happy place that is my best friend’s backyard, with the fire crackling and crickets chirping. It’s strange that the dark now brings fear instead of fireflies.

I never thought I would miss these things about Michigan. That all the bug bites and dirt roads and occasional smell of horses would ever mean something. I was never an outdoorsy person, but paddleboarding and camping now sound like a slice of heaven served with a side of sunburn.

I have a previously-undiscovered love letter to Michigan scrawled on the palm of my right hand. It screams of lake water.

I never thought I would miss Michigan so dearly.

I never thought I would miss lake weeds.