I do this sometimes, and I’m going to do it again. I’m just going to tell you about my day in the prettiest way possible. But completely and totally accurate, of course. It’s just that, I viewed this day with such a rosy hue that it might come off as just some incredibly lovely day in LaLa Land, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t to anyone else but me and my ecstatic little heart that leapt for joy at the sight of the Chippewa River rushing under my feet as we stood on a bridge headed toward Island Park this morning.
My eyes flew open at 5:48 this morning, and I battled, momentarily, the feeling of excitement, crested only slightly by the disappointment of knowing my dear husband was in no mood to be awake that early, as well; I would have to wait for the sun to make an appearance before he would even consider batting one of his gorgeous coppery eyelashes.
I laid my head back down and allowed a stupid, silly grin to engulf my face as I envisioned my hour-to-hour itinerary for the day. I wanted to see it all, share every square foot of the city I love so much. I wanted him to see the little glimpses of my Amalgam and I wanted to see if he could feel the embrace of the community around him as I do. I wanted to watch our son walk across the sidewalks I walked, so I could rewind to those lonely moments and rewrite them in my memory. My luck is remarkable – it is rare that one not be required to die and go to Heaven to be blessed with such a glorious do-over, and today, I retook a thousand steps or more.
We waved a bee away from us as we picked out a half-gallon of the sweetest apple cider I’ve had in a long time. We stopped at the Farmers Market downtown when we parked to walk the streets, and there was a cider mill booth. Being fans of the stuff, we felt compelled to taste. We were recently at Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills, which we love, and we had some of their cider and doughnuts. They were really, really good. Today, we had some from Andersen Farms, a Northern Michigan farm, and there was something decidedly sweeter about it. It wasn’t just good – it was awesome. The doughnuts were amazing. I’m so sad to know they’ll be gone in the morning.
We walked through Island Park and made friends with a mama duck. If she isn’t a mama duck, I hope she has some ducklings of her own someday. She seemed like such a lovely little lady. I let myself swell a little as I pointed out each different playground, taking in each impression the serenity of it all left on my fair ginger lover’s face. I watched his shoulders rise and fall as the city hugged him a little, too.
As I pushed the stroller up the hill leading back into the downtown area from the park, I remembered just how steep that hill was. I also felt good about the challenge, almost defiant as I stomp-waddled up the hill with my little man, my big man at my side. I channeled every disappointment I committed against myself before, and before I knew it, we were eight blocks down the road, admiring the freshly painted homes, with their freshly-mowed lawns and freshly cleaned paned windows. I’m so proud of the way the people take care of themselves and of each other, and are aware of the fact that appearances create impressions. Even rereading what I just wrote, it makes me realize how the city itself makes me want to be a better person; a woman worth calling it my own.
I pointed out each little shop, the arches of each roof, the little touches. I name-dropped unabashedly, almost relieved at having retained the memories of something good that came from all that went so wrong before. I attached anecdotes to every pointing finger, this is where this happened, and this is where I lived. Where I worked, where I trusted, where I remembered, where I liked, where I was ripped off, where I sought help, where I found friends. This place has the best onion rings. Things like that, they’re so essential. If he is to be comfortable in this new place, he needs to be equipped with the most important information.
I was pleased to see some old favorites, such as Broadway Theatre, Downtown Drugs, Blue in the Face II and the Bird. I was sad to note the empty windows of the bookstore.
I felt a teensy-bit out of place as I attempted to guide our little three-man tour through the University Center. Stark white, with minimalist signs leading the way towards offices I don’t remember, I managed to steer us towards the bookstore, where I had to pick up new CMU swag to give my old beloved shirt a break. Plus Rory needed to represent.
From there, we headed toward Goodies to Go, the little smoothie shop where I used to work, now unfortunately located across the narrow corridor from a Starbucks. Which is unfortunately across the street from the library and one of my favorite coffee stops, Java City. (Again, I find myself name-dropping, when really, I’d be happy with a Coffee Beanery, yet there is not one to be found in the vicinity.) I just wish they hadn’t allowed Starbucks to intrude upon the campus. I didn’t think we were those kinds of people, but I guess some of us are. Which is okay. I mean, Starbucks is okay. I just think, in this case, it is a little overkill.
I saved the best for last, the most beautiful building on campus. My favorite place, my happy place, the place I was able to connect with anyone but the man who was wreaking havoc in every other space in my life. The library was my safe place. Most of the time.
Sometimes it was the place in which I dreamed of flying off the roof. Sometimes it was the place I crawled home from, hallucinating ancient ghosts who taunted me in my mental fog. Sometimes it was the place I let things fall apart in public and sometimes it was the place I said too much.
Once in a while, it was the place where I felt four stories closer to God, with the world at my feet. It was a place that reminded me of the great potential in my life. Today, it did not disappoint. I felt my heart sigh such a deep, cleansing sigh as I gazed up at the roof from the top mezzanine; as I ran my hands across the curve of the great round windows. I will be back.
I strolled us down Fancher, the proudest street in the city. I gazed at the mansion on the corner and excitedly accounted in detail for my love, the gorgeous memory of the open door of that mansion and what I saw behind it. Just for a brief moment as my daughter trick-or-treated, I saw the inside of that beautiful home and even eight years later, I still find myself in awe of the majesty of it. We drove to the end of the street and saw a home we’d been watching on the real estate listings for a while. Maybe it is waiting for us.
There are 51 new old books on my shelf on this night. The reason we were even in Mount Pleasant today was for a room full of books. It was a beautiful sight. I drove 5-plus hours today to have a pick through thousands of books belonging to a late Michigan poet named Bill Knott, who lived in town in the dainty dollhouse neighborhood near the hospital. I love that neighborhood.
I walked in the small home and the first title I saw was Homer’s Iliad. I grinned with the memory of Brakke’s class, the man who forever ruined it for me. His tedious overanalysis of Iliad has filled me with a remarkable hatred for Greek literature. I quickly moved past the Greek and Russian shelves and nearly died in ecstasy as I almost inhaled the Shakespeare from the shelves, shoving them into bags not unlike I shoveled in my chicken quesadilla-with-extra-jalapeno-extra-hot-sauce from Taco Boy for lunch.
I fucking love Taco Boy. Excuse my French, but it is completely called for. Almost as much as I love the additions to my book collection. I had such a good day. I felt like a mental patient with a pass to be normal for a day. It was almost indescribably wonderful, but I hope I have painted something of a picture for you.
I hope you all had a great day, too.