Moving On

Yep … Steve’s right. After almost 32 months in Michigan, nearly but not quite 3 years, we’re on our way back to the Bay Area, something I have to admit I truly never thought I’d never be saying. (Which points up ever more succinctly the wisdom of that old adage “Never say never.”)

It’s been close to 3 years of: an unforgettable cross-country move; crushing, seemingly endless toil in grad school (for both Steve and I); long nights in the basement trying to get assignments and papers and presentations and lesson plans finished before sunrise; stretches of “week after week of single-digits and howling winds — a sunless horror, devoid of joy or hope” (to revisit that unforgettable turn of phrase from Dixie Franklin‘s Michigan travel book); lots of snow, lots of summer humidity, lots of thunder and lightning, and one terrifying tornado our very first night in town; lots of beagle howls and walks and maintenance; brazen squirrels and amazing birds (jaunty robins and cardinals, majestic ravens, obnoxious mockingbirds); college football madness; Ann Arbor Art Fairs; Dairy Queen excursions; several films at the Michigan Theater; Huron River walks (and one excellent paddleboat afternoon); a year of having to live with the miserable, cynical debate about the passage of Proposal 2 (not to mention the even more miserable and cynical 2004 presidential election); uncounted mornings sitting in Cafe Ambrosia on Maynard listening to jazz on WEMU and reading the New York Times or going through notes for class; one Harry Connick concert and one Michael Moore talk; several gymnastics events; one intense trip to Detroit during a monster blizzard; a few very memorable trips across the border into Ontario (once for our Canadian wedding ceremony); a couple of trips to Lansing (mostly school-related, thus not much sightseeing); and one very early visit to the breathtaking Leelanau Peninsula (unfortunately, our grad student schedules made it very difficult to see much more of Michigan than the southeast corner, which is regrettable).

The news is that I have a fantastic new job at UC Berkeley that I’ll be starting on May 15. With the job market for librarians the way it’s been, and rumors of budget cuts in the air at the University of Michigan, I’m very fortunate to have found a full-time job that dovetails so well with my interests in government and politics.

Michigan is really an indescribable place (despite Dixie Franklin’s brave attempt), and even after nearly 3 years of posting entries about my impressions of it, I’m at a loss as to how to summarize what it’s been like to live here (other than to realize that living this close to Motown has cemented my passion for R&B and the blues). Bruce Catton (quoted in the Franklin book) wrote, “Michigan is perhaps the strangest state in the Union, a place where the past, the present and the future are all tied up together in a hard knot.” I could possibly agree with the first part of his sentence, but the second part? You could make that “past/present/future” analogy about virtually every state in the Union (except maybe California, which lives to destroy the past).

There are people and places in Michigan that I will miss (Cafe Ambrosia!), and there are many things about being back in California that are going to take some getting used to. All in all, I think I’m making the right move, though, and as I said, I consider myself very fortunate.