I am writing this from Ferndale. I have travelled back to Michigan, and the search for water, as the title goes, is fruitful. For example, this is where I was this morning:
And here is where I was yesterday (with Mel, and Carolyn, and Layla the Dog):
Which is making me very happy. (Although I am currently unemployed and now I should change the name of this blog to “insearchofwaterANDAJOBPLEASE.”) I agree with the very wise Mel: Lake Michigan will always feel like home. Then, of course, Michigan has my parents (I have awesome parents), and many of my friends (I have awesome friends) – and my old lilac bush, and streets upon streets upon woods upon woods full of gracefully changing deciduous trees, and cider mills, and Detroit, and a great many microbreweries, and it’s all wrapping me up in a happy, cozy blanket of warmth. MICHIGAN = BLANKET. (It’s a wet blanket, full of trees and sand…which is way, way better metaphorically than it would be literally.)
Of course, I’m in Michigan now because my season ended in Colorado. Ended with a whimper, due to that little ol’ shutdown. I didn’t know for sure that my last day on the job was my last day on the job until later that night, at home, having beers and a will-it-shutdown party with the neighbors. Thus followed a few days of living in a closed-to-the-public park (amazing how quickly nature takes over; the road was polka-dotted with bighorn sheep and their droppings within a day), viewing firsthand locals’ reactions, and waiting to see what happened, until finally loading up my car and driving out with little fanfare. There were a lot of people I didn’t get to say goodbye to, and a lot of uncertainty around those last few days, and in some ways I wish I could have had more fanfare. For all of its occasional faults, COLM, and the people I worked with, deserved it. I already miss the light on Independence Monument, the lizards, the sky at sunset, driving up that crazy-ass road, the fog hanging low in the canyons. It is a strange and beautiful place. I will never forget.
This summer taught me a lot of things. I got much better at backing into parking spaces. I learned a lot more about leading groups of small children, and lots about lizards, desert plants, and the birds that like canyons. I learned more on how to find my niche in a new place, how to meet new people. I gained a new confidence in myself, and over time, a lot about being a friend. And from my friends, and neighbors, I learned a long list of things. Molly and Shane taught me plants and how to find Otto’s bathtub and what a tiny short-horned lizard looks like; Cyrus taught me dinosaur fossils and geology and banjo music; Katy and Ryan and Sue taught me how to see artifacts that I’d never noticed before; Mark taught me about sheep and telescopes and dark skies; Ashley taught me to be open and loving and confident and what to order at the Nepali restaurant; Cherry taught me quiet kindness and inner peace and how to do the “Cups” song. Mike, who I got to have lots of adventures with, taught me fishing, fire building, how to shoot a gun, and to slow down while walking (still working on this one); but most of all, how to treat every single interaction with another person as something worthy of care and attention and a good joke, in such a way that new friends are constantly being made. That’s an important one, and I recommend it. I also recommend the Nepali restaurant in Grand Junction.
I made some good friends this summer, and I hope I can honor them, even if it’s just with happy memories, in the future. Seasonal life sucks this way – for a few months, you live and work and breathe and drink a hell of a lot of beers with these people, and then suddenly, you all scatter again to different corners of the planet. I don’t know if I’ll get to have adventures with Mike or Molly or Shane or Cyrus or Adam or Ryan or Katie or Sue or Mark or Ashley or Becky or Cherry or Stephanie or Jimmy or Conrad or Sean or any of them again. But it doesn’t matter. We had a colorful, musical, enriching summer together, in that crazy collection of canyons, and I’m grateful for that. You guys? All of you that I got to know this summer, wherever you may be: May you be happy, and peaceful, and keep walking around in the sunshine, spreading your own wisdom.