Since we're so close to Lake Michigan it gets very windy here. This is helpful on those sticky dog-days of summer when it's like 95 degrees out, but on the other 362 days a year, it's just an annoyance. Between the flag pole out front, the windchimes out back, our patio set being dragged across the cement and the garbage can banging into the side of the house it's like a damn tropical storm out there every single night! Am I seriously supposed to sleep during all this ruckus? Last night, while lying in bed wondering if we would make it to Oz in time to meet Elphaba, I decided to start this blog, to tell the world what it's like up here in what's been referred to as "the armpit of the universe."
Everyone knows how great northern Michigan is during the summer thanks to Kid Rock. It really is as beautiful and laid back and fun as it seems in his song. There's a body of water pretty much everywhere you look. Some are such rich shades of blues and greens its hard to believe you're not staring at an enhanced photo in a nature blog. Others are so clean and crystal clear one might think they're in the Caribbean. Oh, and the fall is just as gorgeous. Those trees produce colors so incredible it's like living in one of those HD Sunglasses infomercials! The colors seem to get more vibrant and bright with each passing tree and it's just phenomenal, really. So yes, northern Michigan is a great place to take your family for a summer vacation. But what's it like for the people who live here? And what's it like the other six months of the year? That's the story I'm about to tell. But I should probably start by telling you how I got here.
At the beginning of 2010 we were living in a perfect condo. It was spacious and had everything I wanted and needed: cathedral ceilings, skylight, fireplace, dishwasher, central heat and air, ceiling fans, washer and dryer, and a gigantic bedroom that overlooked the pool in the courtyard. We were in a 3rd floor walk-up which was a pain in the butt (literally), especially when we were bringing in groceries, but we only had to go up and down a few times a day and I figured it was saving us money on gym memberships. The only bad thing about the condo was that it was a one bedroom and since we were actively trying to conceive we were hoping that we weren't going to live there forever. But at the time I was content. More than content. That condo was a dream come true.
This perfect condo was located in Wilmington, NC. Wilmington was pretty darn perfect, too, except for a few months in the summer when it's over 100 degrees everyday and everything is soaked with sweat, even my purse and cell phone, and a person can't be outside more than like 5 minutes before they stop breathing. But other than that - perfect. Ten minutes in one direction took you right to the ocean where you could play in the waves or sit on the sand and watch dolphins swim up and down the shore. Ten minutes in another direction took you to the Cape Fear River and the hip boutique-y downtown area lined with fun clubs, unique shops, sidewalks made of bricks and policemen on horseback. Coming from Detroit in the spring of 2007, I described Wilmington as a place where the grass really is greener! The flowers are brighter, the sun is warmer and I was happy there.
The only thing we didn't like about Wilmington was our jobs. We both worked at the same small family-owned restaurant. He was a cook. I was a server. It wasn't really the job itself that we hated, it was the customers. There were some really, really great people that came in there, but unfortunately, they weren't the majority. The restaurant was kind of located on the "wrong side of the tracks" and attracted a lot of not-so-nice people who didn't like to tip and that's putting it mildly. On average we would get $1 per person at the table regardless of how much food they ordered or how many damn times I refilled their mother-effing sweet tea and hushpuppies (see, it's been 6 months and I still have so much anger inside of me). So therefore, waiting on a 2-top earned me $2, a 4-top - $4 and so on. At least once per shift I would get stiffed for no reason at all. I once got stiffed 5 times in one night! And every time was like the first time for me. I would take it personally. I would get so hurt and angry. My face would get hot and red and smoke would rise from the tips of my ears and I left work everyday pounding my fists on the dashboard.
Brian had his own anger issues to deal with in the kitchen, you know, being expected to work harder than others who were getting paid more, that kind of thing. And because we made such little money we needed to work 6 days a week. So 6 days a week we were pissed off. And that one day a week of saltwater and sunshine just wasn't enough to cheer us up anymore. So we thought about moving.
I really didn't want to leave NC yet. I thought getting a different job was all I needed. But there weren't any. Brian had been wanting to move to Detroit to be near my family ever since he first met them. Of course I would love to be there, too. But there aren't any jobs there either. Was there anywhere in the world where they were doing enough hiring that we could both get new jobs? Yes. Mackinaw City, MI.