Three years ago, The Lovely Becky and I arrived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula like Eddie Albert and Zsa Zsa Gabor (with me in the role of Zsa Zsa). We traded malls and metrosexuality for nature and neverending winter for the sake of greater economic stability. Despite the forbidding climate and remote location, we gave it the old college try.
We came in the summer, and a splendid summer at that. The weather the first few months here was spectacular, rivaling that of Southern California, but without the smog, traffic, and cyborg governors. The beauty also blew me away. The clear blue vastness of Lake Superior was just blocks away, and we were surrounded by pristine forests that didn’t feel like the afterthought of urban planning. Wow, I thought, I could get used to this.
Then winter came and smacked me in the balls with one of the many man-sized icicles hanging from my roof. For five straight months, I dug out and snowblowed and shivered and offered to do anything to make the mercury climb over 32. Even when the temperature did rise above freezing, it still often felt freezing well into June. Just when I felt the last bit of winter chill thaw out of my nuts, the icy cock-punch of winter returned.
It was a classic case of it’s not you, it’s me. For anyone looking for abundant naturally beauty, winter sports, small-town living, and the thrill of tracking, killing, and gutting your dinner, this place is perfect. We concluded, however, that were too soft, too squishy for a remote town founded on iron mining. Even the influence of the local university couldn’t shake the feeling that we lived in an outpost more than a town, a little bubble of urbanity floating in a sea of forest preserves.
We missed our families, too, and with the addition of Libby, those family ties felt even more stretched. We wanted our daughter to be able to see her family without having to make the journey like an expedition from the Arctic. Plus, I’d be lying if didn’t say I missed the malls and metrosexuality.
So we’re packing up the trading post and returning back to the city. TLB got a great job at DePaul University, and by September we’ll be back in Chicago, back to city life, back to family, back to the familiar.
The funny thing is that I feel very much like I did when I left New York City—the Anti-U.P. I also spent three years there, and while the experience was life-changing and fantastic, it never felt like home. It was like studying abroad in a foreign city, full of energy and adventure but also with a time limit. It’s been the same way here. Being able to walk a few blocks and go to the lake shore or to our cozy little downtown, soaking up a sky full of stars, or taking in the fiery bloom of the fall colors…I will definitely miss that. But like New York, this just wasn’t home, and right now, we feel the pull of home.
Of course, there are additional reasons we’re trading the country for the city, so here is today’s list: Why are we leaving the U.P.?
10) Feel more comfortable living where “bear hunting” is a euphemism for bagging hairy gay men.
9) Miss the excitement of random carjackings.
8) Need to live someplace where the annual snowfall amount doesn’t seem like a typo.
7) Camouflage is not our color.
6) Only crack available here is plumber’s.
5) Want to trade the fresh, clean air of nature for the smell coming from the Cinnabon at the strip mall.
4) Simply cannot live somewhere that isn’t showing Avatar in 3D.
3) Couldn’t get used to using the phrase “nice beaver” in non-ironic sense.
2) Prefer our mustaches to be covered in pizza sauce rather than permafrost.
1) Realize we’re more London, England, than London, Jack.