Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You, Ann Arbor

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, 
already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”
— Anne Lamott

Our life in Ann Arbor was often idyllic.  The unspoiled charm of a small town is the polar opposite of our beloved, crowded, noisy Chicago. There are people in Ann Arbor who never want to leave town because they think there is nothing else for them to see. Often we took several of the boys' friends to Chicago with us and they were terrified.

We knew two men, one Black, one white, both in their 60s, who had never left the county and never wanted to leave. Both had the funds and ability to leave; they just could find no reason to visit anywhere else.  I could never wrap my mind around this no matter how hard I tried.  To them, Ann Arbor wasn't the center of the universe, it was the universe. I tried to understand how they had no interest in the outside world, but I couldn't.

We had mixed emotions about the city. It is a beautiful, tree filled city. The town and gown metaphor is appropriate.  Perhaps that is why our emotions were mixed.  We weren't used to being identified with only one group, and we refused to be restricted. There were speed bumps along the way but we survived.

Memories of Ann Arbor include the many conferences and seminars we developed, consulting trips, dinners, luncheons, more meetings, and learning to golf. We were active in clubs and fraternal organizations, served on charity boards and mentored many students.  I shouldn't forget Hash Bash.

In early April the campus is flooded with thousands of pot smokers who smoke in broad daylight. The atmosphere is festive for Ann Arbor is know for being tolerant of pot.

In spring, the blooming forsythia, crabapple, and redbud trees encircle the city and you are dazzled by the beauty.

In summer the town feels deserted.  The students are gone and you enjoy the empty spaces even though you know visitors will flood the city for the Art Fairs, a group of five award-winning art fairs that take place annually, the Summer Festival, and the Blues Festival.

Over 500,000 visitors attend the Art Fairs each year, which always take place during the third full week of July, running from Wednesday through Saturday.  Many locals leave the city because it is so crowded. In addition to art exhibits, the fairs also feature music performances and children's activities.

In a twinkling students return and the city comes to life again.  Soon, all too soon, the leaves begin to change.

Brilliant reds and audacious yellow leaves are everywhere. There are so many leaves that the city sends trucks to gather the fallen leaves.  By Halloween, you know that winter is coming and you pray for just one sunny day a week.

Cold winds and drifting snow are on the way.  Hurry, hurry, spring.

Did I like Ann Arbor?  Yes.  Am I glad to be gone? Yes. Do I miss it? Sometimes, I miss the intellectual stimulation and our friends.  It was the perfect place to raise a family and perhaps that's the problem.  It can dull your senses to the rest of the world.  Because of Ann Arbor we were able to travel all over the world.  We had dear friends and neighbors, an exciting lifestyle,  and incredible professional opportunities.  So, thank you Ann Arbor, for 31 endearing years.

Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, 
and grow old wanting to get back to. 
 ~John Ed Pearce


  1. Anne Lamott is my favorite author! Love that quote. "It can dull your senses to the rest of the world." This is so true of hometowns. I notice that when my friends who've moved away come back for a visit, they are so glad they left. Even those who remained in the dominant SLC religion seem more well-rounded and grounded. Alas, but I have to remain to care for my mother. Sigh.

  2. What beautiful pictures. Ann Harbor sounds like a wonderful place. I seem to move around in 10 year marks. I have another 3 years before I leave the town I'm in now.

  3. Christella - Thanks for your comment on my post. Girl, the feeling is mutual about your renderings!

  4. Where is Christella? Is everything all right?

  5. Oh, beautiful pictures! The leaves are especially pretty.

    I can't imagine having the funds and the ability to leave and travel, but not having the desire. There are so many things to see and experience. It seems like it would be such a waste. To each his own, I guess...