Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Headline Poem 3/18/14 -- Rock, Paper, Michigan

Fab Five University of Michigan, 1991(Photo credit Google Image)

I have a tendency to obsess over things. When spun positively this means I am passionate, and like to do my research. NCAA March Madness is upon us, and this reminds me of two things: 1. The last time I actually followed college basketball, when Jalen Rose and Chris Webber played for Michigan in 1991, and 2. My love of college campuses, and college towns. Today's poem took me down several past paths where I longed to live in some of these towns.

Rock, Paper, Michigan

In high school,
I sent away for a least a hundred college brochures
Pre-internet and social media,
I could not follow these schools on Instagram
for constant updates and images of classes and picturesque views

When I wanted to know what the campuses looked like
in Fall, Spring, Summer, and covered in snow,
(I longed for seasons, as only a girl who has never shoveled snow can),
I had to do my research

I'd fall asleep reading Encyclopedia Britannica,
pondering state birds, and famous presidents, most popular exports,
percentages, tedious details, sometimes scribbled on paper,
sometimes swirling in my head

Marist College in Poughkeepsie, San Francisco State, Western Connecticut
The east called to me, but it was not meant to be
I've learned you cannot fight the tide, regardless of the coast

When I met my husband,
we drove cross country
with lists of the things we were looking for in a city
Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Wisconsin
We fell in love with East Lansing and Ann Arbor,
and of course the small town of Chelsea where actor Jeff Daniels had a home,
but there was no university, and that was a must 

Rock, paper, Michigan,
or Idaho,
no, no, too far,
we have parents as grandparents to think about now,
we chose Northern California, but it didn't last
It caused stress and weight gain and loss, and friction, and mud,
but as two sets of scales, we evened out measuring and tilting and weighing

Riverside is home
to oranges and us
to heat and us
to wind and waterless ways
and us
to friends and community and jobs
and us
to love and us
to us in love

Foreign sand will always beg
to be between our toes
as will the need for unfamiliar food,
candy bars wrapped in odd-looking paper
museums with names we will mis-pronounce until we've tried a few times
the magnetic pull of rocks, and papers, and Michigan
will hang out like a crush at the local diner,
hoping you come out,
and he can make it look like an accident that you ran into each other
at just the exact moment in time
fate, manipulated,
how can something so hopeful start with a lie?

Today, I embrace the simple things
like routine, a family dentist,
and driving a soccer-mom minivan with a Thule on top