Being Back: Here and There

by farrah on August 13, 2014 · 13 comments

A couple of weekends ago I was back in the States for the first time in almost two years. I came to town for my 20th reunion, and I’ve made it pretty well-known on FB that I had a blast seeing everyone. I got a (quick) chance to see my family- as well as Napa who lives with my parents. But other than that- what was it like? You know, being back? I’ve pretty much fallen head over heels for the NL and Europe in general, so what scathing observations could I make about the good ‘ole US of A?

Interstate 75 - Michigan

Truth is: None. Nothing you probably haven’t heard before or assumed for yourselves. I’m not going to sit here and bash anyone or anything from some imaginary high perch judging over anyone else. In all honesty, I had a really nice time back ‘home’. It was strange to be there without my family, and it was over before I even adjusted to the time difference- but other than just a few things I picked up upon after being back, it was pretty much a ho-hum experience.

What I did

Of course I ate. I ate and I ate and I ate. I felt like I was a human python eating all of the things on my list. My friend had a get-together on Sunday and I couldn’t get enough pasta salad and oh! the giant sub! Everything was just so damn good. Everything.

And I went to Target. I ran into an old friend who I ended up seeing at the reunion after I posted about being there to stock my meth addiction- and wasn’t shocked when my total came to $100. And I seriously bought nothing fun. It’s a conspiracy folks. Target can suck $100 out of anyone. As if you didn’t already know.

I went to the tiniest farmer’s market I’ve ever seen. I think I’m spoiled rotten to the core on farmer’s markets these days- so it’s not their fault. I’d like to hope that they get bigger and more popular, but at least they’re not filled with all the crap I see at our Thursday market (i.e. ugly pants and cheap sunglasses). Fresh fish and veggies though is awesome.

And of course there was the reunion. It was great. So great to see so many old faces, talk to inspiring friends and ย feel like time stood still for a while- but fast forwarded in the same moment. That was kind of strange.

What I didn’t like

I have nothing to say about the news, as I didn’t watch any. I’m not really all that informed on the political climate (except I learned about some deranged and selfish asshat running for state rep in my hometown who likes to spend money on sports instead of education) so I also can’t give much of an opinion there either. But what I didn’t like sort of surprised me: It was all of the driving. And the space. The time and planning it took to get from point A to point B. It was like I had forgotten how much of my life has been wasted just getting to and fro on a daily basis. I don’t miss that one bit.

It wasn’t so bad considering that my family and friends drove me wherever I needed to go (which I greatly appreciate!), it’s just that I sort of blocked out how much time it took to get, well, anywhere. It was 15 minutes to get across town. About 45 to get here- an hour to get there. I was sick of sitting in a car. It seemed so wasteful. This was my everyday life in SC and Michigan- so I don’t know why it seemed to bother me so much, but it did. I’ve gotten too used to being where I want to go on foot or by bike. Or if I’m feeling really lazy and risking to drive without a license (ahem) to the city center a whole 5 minute drive away. Maybe the fact that everyone had a new (huge) car takes out some of the sting?

That’s very much how Michigan is though- things are spread out. You take expressways everywhere. It’s always been like this- it’s nothing new. It just struck me as to how tiresome it was and how much time people waste commuting. I don’t know what this means since wherever we end up back in the US in a few years- I doubt my dream of finding a sweet little neighborhood school like we have now, will come true. I want to be able to walk to the store, the doctor, the Chinese restaurant. No, I don’t want to live in a city. I like this feeling of a village where we see someone we know every time we go out. I like small. Not much traffic. The jingle of a bicycle bell. That’s it.

Where is this in the United States? Wait. Don’t tell me here. Send me an email so that no one else will know about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julia August 13, 2014 at 11:20 am

I always wanted to live in a place like that, the closest I’ve found is Key West, though I don’t think that’s very kid friendly. I guess Ocean City, NJ is kinda like that lots of local stuff, small school, farm markets but it’s a dry town and you still have to leave the island to get to say Target.


2 farrah August 13, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Dry town! The very idea!!!!


3 Jen Gehres August 13, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Farrah, I spend all summer in Boyne City, and we ride bikes everywhere. So you can always end up there. The farmer’s market is adorable and you can get fresh fish and meat every Wednesday and Saturday. Northern Michigan in the summer time can beat almost any other place… And I’ve been places!! I don’t know what else you’ll do there in the winter… But you can always ride your bucket bike with the boys to go skiing at Boyne Mountain! ๐Ÿ™‚


4 farrah August 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I really did enjoy my time in Marquette- I lived there ages ago and still have family there. But the snow! GAH! But you’re right. Northern MI is such a wonderful place on all counts. The key is have a JOB there ๐Ÿ™‚


5 sara August 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Loved your food list. I can honestly say that 98% of it is on our list whenever we visit MI! Esp. Gus’s breadsticks and Big Boy! I could go for a slim jim. RIGHT. NOW. ๐Ÿ™‚


6 farrah August 14, 2014 at 9:18 am

I can ALWAYS be up for one of those. Why are they so good?!


7 CK August 13, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Well I’m not American, but have travelled extensively throughout the US and have lived in Canada and Europe (France and Switzerland). There are pros and cons with every country and it’s hard to appreciate one or the other at any given snap shot in life, but yet easy to make comparisons!! There sooooo many Europeen coworkers who have moved to the US and LOVE it. And of course vise versa in your case.

There are many cities within North America where you can walk/bike to the stores, schools, restaurants, city center markets… people just need to be willing to pay more for less (less in terms of space). It all about life’s give and take!


8 farrah August 14, 2014 at 9:19 am

I realize that more now than ever. I am so much happier with ‘less’ space/stuff/privacy. That’s probably going to be our biggest takeaway here.

I think another thing that I think about is the overall safety aspect. From afar, I see things getting a little crazier in the US- I don’t like that. I know crime is everywhere- and no one is immune, but I feel safe tucked in m little NL village.


9 Leighann August 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

we live in a small area… a little country villiage. I love it. We can drive to the city if we need to. It’s wonderful.


10 farrah August 14, 2014 at 9:20 am

See? Right there you have exactly what I want ๐Ÿ™‚


11 Jmac August 13, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Before we moved to Texas (where you must own a car), we lived 30 minutes outside Chicago. We walked to the supermaket, to restaurants and for ice cream. Took the train to the city all the time and drove only to visit family and, of course, to go to target. ๐Ÿ™‚


12 farrah August 14, 2014 at 9:20 am

Of course! I’ve had to adjust to the no Target thing- but I must admit that it has saved us a ton of money just by not existing!


13 Chamisa August 14, 2014 at 9:11 pm

This is something we’re really struggling with when thinking about moving back to the US. Our little city sounds a lot like yours – small, walkable/bikeable, communal. The thought of going from that to a 30+ minute commute each way everyday is downright panic-inducing. We love our biking lifestyle, and it will be SO hard to give it up. If you get any good tips on where to live forward them to me :).


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