Currently I’m packed into a little moving box squashed between beach bags, tennis rackets, golf clubs, suitcases, and my family. There’s also a basil plant sitting between my feet—but that’s a long story. We’ve listened to every song known to man, the swish of passing cars, and the hum of a snoring pug.
And we’re almost there.
We’re just a couple hours out from Traverse City, MI, where we’ll remain for most of the summer. My sweet (but not quaint) hometown is one that celebrates creativity, community, the arts, local foods, and the beautiful outdoors. It’s the kind of town where most people try to work their way home after college or kick starting their career—not because they couldn’t hack it elsewhere, but because ‘elsewhere’ just can’t compete with our combination of gorgeous beaches, delicious cuisine, and thriving community-feel.
For those of us who don’t complete the migration home, we make an annual pilgrimage during the summer. Because Traverse City is the heart and soul of summertime. It’s early morning coffee dates, all day at the beach, dining downtown al fresco, and late night campfires on Lake Michigan. It’s outdoor concerts, all forms of festivals, shopping the famers market, and snubbing the gym in favor of biking the TART trail, kayaking the Boardman, or maybe climbing the dunes. There’s simply no better place to spend a summer.
There’s something about the place that’s good for the soul. It’s nourishing in a deep-down kind of way.
Traverse City cultivates a different value than most cities, a different way of living, a different soundtrack. I’ve lived all around the country, some great spots and some so-so, and the rhythm of many other cities is strikingly different than that of my hometown.
No, residents of TC aren’t on perpetual vacation—but recreation and enjoyment are a driving factor of how days and weeks are structured. There’s a lot less ‘working around the clock’ and a much larger helping of going for a walk, heading to the bay for a quick swim, or meeting friends for a glass of wine on a patio.
Yes, of course, there’s money in the area. It’s a resort town, so that goes with the territory. But it’s more of a “be smart, get a good education, work hard—but don’t let that trump living a life of real value” sort of approach. Couldn’t we all use a dose of that?
In TC the world isn’t our platform to rise above, impressing everyone with our status and accomplishments. The earth is ours for enjoying, celebrating. (We were about local and sustainable foods long before it was popular. We were recycling way before any kind of green movement.) And, in TC the people around us aren’t stepping stones to a career, or rungs on the ladder to success.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ve learned and gained a lot of from living in other cities. I didn’t even know how to walk in high heels until I lived in the South. And the East Coast has shaped and sharpened much of who I am and gifted some of my very best friends—a big piece of my heart is there.
Yet, I find myself wanting needing a refresher of those basic values, of my roots. I need a bit of a different kind of beat, a different song. I want to sprawl out on my parents’ back deck and find some mental space, some calm, before we hop in my dad’s jeep to go get an ice cream cone.
So here’s to a summer of renewal. Of cooking big, fresh, beautiful meals alongside my parents. Of watching my kids ride their bikes, splash in the waves, and run FREE. Of sneaking off for a late night game of tennis and a nightcap at a sidewalk café. Of friends who have been by my side since I had bangs. And of water, water, and more fresh water.
We’re on our way.
We’ll know we’ve arrived when we can smell the bay air.