about bliss

Monday, October 28, 2013

favorite places: northwestern michigan edition

When I was in high school, my 9th grade health class was assigned a marriage project. We were paired with an opposite-sex classmate, and we had to collaborate on a project, in which we would plan our wedding and post-nuptial life together.

As a Women's Studies prof, I now seriously question this assignment and all of the problematic assumptions it relies upon, namely the heteronormative coupling evolving into marriage. At the time, though, I desperately hoped that I would be paired with my crush. I wasn't. I now wonder what classmates felt alienated by this project, which was likely designed to teach us that weddings are expensive and married life challenging.

I distinctly remember deciding that my husband and I would live in Traverse City, Michigan, because it was the best place I knew. At the age of 14, I had traveled to a handful of states outside of my native Michigan, and most of my travel was to Northwest Michigan, in the area surrounding our family hunting cabin in a tiny hamlet close to Traverse City.

While I've now traveled more extensively, and have even ventured outside of the country on one momentous occasion (Paris, France), I still count Traverse City, Michigan at the top of my list of places to live.

latte from Morsels
As I've evolved since I was 14, so too has Traverse City. Big box store sprawl lines the highway leading into town, and chain restaurants frame the southwest side of the city. And yet, I am still blown away every time I crest the hill on M-37 and see Grand Traverse Bay glittering in the distance. I feel the history and untold stories as I twirl pasta at Trattoria Stella, located in the former Traverse City State Hospital. I still marvel at the Caribbean shades of blue and green of the water as I drive around the bay, heading to L. Mawby sparkling wine vineyard.

late autumn grapevines at Black Star Farms

Regularly noted for being a foodie city and food, wine, and beer lovers destination, Traverse City also appeals to my literary side, with their annual National Writers Series. Two independent bookstores grace Front Street, and the city encourages reading through a local read program. In the summer, the TC Film Festival attracts filmmakers and viewers from around the world.

And the twin peninsulas, Leelanau and Old Mission, offer breathtaking vistas, undeveloped orchard and vineyards, and local eateries.

TC's not without its faults—food, from farmers' market to local wines and artistic lattes all cost more than comparable towns in Wisconsin (I use Madison for comparison). And the population is overwhelmingly white (94.4% according to the 2010 US Census).

Yesterday, after leaving TC with my mom and picking up Gregg at the hunting cabin, I drove back to the city to show Gregg a few sights, both natural, gustatory, and cultural. Will this part of my marriage project, unlike the other elements from that long-ago assignment

come true? Will we someday live, work, and love in TC? Or, will TC always be that ideal place to visit and imagine how life would be transformed by place and culture?

No comments:

Post a Comment