“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”

I’ll go ahead and warn you that I’m not totally sure what direction this post is going to take–whether it’s going to turn out profound like last week’s post or be a stream-of-consciousness reflection on how Simon and Garfunkel lyrics have kept coming to my attention over the past week, which is all that I have in mind right now. Just letting you know.

So, yes, last night while I was making a tuna layered salad to chill for tonight’s meeting of my creative writing group, I listened to my Simon and Garfunkel greatest hits record because for days, I had been coming across direct and indirect references to their songs, from a former grad student telling me that “Bridge over Troubled Water” played an instrumental role in the conversion of Christian singer Jason Gray (shout out to you, Kandy, if you’re reading this!), to Max Lucado’s odd but appropriate mention of “The Boxer” in his early book No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, to the Michigan place-name Saginaw, which always makes me think of the song “America” (which, since that’s the most generic song title ever, most people probably think of as “All Gone to Look for America”). (“It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw.”) By the way, I haven’t been to the city of Saginaw, but the reason I fairly often think of the name and hence the song is that there’s a thoroughfare called Saginaw (Street? Avenue? It’s just called Saginaw, apparently. They do that a lot around here) in Lansing where the American Red Cross platelet donation center is. Yes, I do drive an hour to Lansing to donate platelets when I could donate here in Grand Rapids with Michigan Blood Services. I’m loyal to the Red Cross, and I don’t mind making the drive once or twice a month, especially now that I have a new Mazda CX-5 that I really enjoy spending time in.

Okay. Rambling. Focus.

There’s a line in “America”–near the Saginaw line, of course–that I never really paid attention to or possibly even heard until last night. (I recently got a new turntable and speakers, and I’m having all these revelations because I can now hear my records properly for the first time.) It says, “Michigan seems like a dream to me now.” This line brought a bemused smile to my face as I was chopping cucumbers or whatever I was doing at that moment. Michigan does seem like a dream to me now, not because–like the protagonist of that song–I have passed through it quickly and left it behind, but because I am still here after seven months and yet it sometimes doesn’t seem real that I live here. And I don’t mean “dream” in the sense of “beyond my wildest dreams”; after all, if you told me I could live anywhere in the world, no restrictions, I’d probably pick Italy or somewhere else more temperate in climate and with better food than Michigan (no offense intended). But I’m awed, blessed, and kinda proud of myself that I am not only living in a state that a year ago I’d never remotely considered living in, but also working at a university that a year ago I’d never heard of (but only because it’s a hidden gem)–and I own a house in that state and just a few blocks from that university. I even have a Michigan license plate on the four-wheel-drive vehicle I probably would not have bought in Virginia. But it all feels a little surreal, like an unusually long vacation.

That’s all I have to say about that, as Forrest Gump says. I hope it was sufficiently profound for you. Go listen to some Simon and Garfunkel.

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