Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Leaving the U.P.

We keep passing the parts of M-28 where Lake Superior peeks out at the road, and my head is one of those horrible last shows of a TV series. I'm talking about the finales in which, instead of making a completely new episode, the writers find a way to fill time with a montage of past seasons. Apparently, I don't want a memory of leaving Marquette, so I fill it with old ones:

Visiting Marquette a month before moving up:
When we first we passed through the steep roadside hills of Munising, which overlooked the lake, I thought we were there. I was impressed and happy with the small size of the town. But we pushed on another 40-60 minutes and found Marquette was bigger, more spread out than I had hoped.

We stayed with Molly and Anthony and toured the town with them. The heat and humidty made an unyielding appearance. We drove around trying to find apartments among houses with slanted floors and yards littered with beer cans and Solo cups. Later, for a view of Lake Superior, we drove up to Presque Isle, but, instead, found ourselves running from a swarm of hungry black flies. Anthony compared it to a horror movie as we tried to roll up the car windows before they joined us.

Moving up with Mom, Grandma, Brittany, and Breanna:
Mom and Grandma seemed to stop at every rest station along the way, but I was anxious to get to Marquette, where Joe had been for two weeks already. By the time we saw the smokestacks and Marquette in a gray distance, Breanna was getting restless and we had exhausted our CD supply. We probably looked pathetic when they left, five women crying in a parking lot.

Enjoying all the visitors we've had:
  • Mom, Grandma, Brittany, and Breanna were the first since they made the move up with me.
  • Mom and Pa Slocum win with the most visits, first bringing us furniture, returning for dogsled races and graduations, and helping us move back to the lower peninsula.
  • Mom and Dan drove up once for a visit and once to bore themselves at graduation.
  • Dad drove us to Big Bay, went with me on a Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota road trip, took me to Lake of the Clouds after graduation, and camped outside of town a few times.
  • Tanya and Tim came for a weekend and we kayaked in AuTrain. The next summer, Tanya and I road up together, and the three of us watched the full season of Dexter in one sitting, not healthy.
  • Marcia and bobbi had to sit through my thesis reading, but it was really nice to see them. 
  • Julie, Paul, and Cris came on that horribly hot Labor Day weekend, but Lake Superior cooled us off.
  • Molly and Anthony, after they were no longer yoopers, calmed me down before I read my thesis.
  • Brittany and Wesley brought me back to Marquette in 2010, and again, the oppressive heat came to torture my guests. For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to cook a big pasta meal in the heat. But it was worth it--Wesley can cook! We tried to see aurora borealis at Little Presque but were in the wrong area. 
  • Dan, Joe's best man, drove up and the two dominated the Buckhunter game at Buffalo Wild Wings. 
These visits meant a lot to us, as they kept us from getting too homesick or lonely.   

Spending the first month in our apartment with nothing but a recliner and a twin bed:

You can probably imagine what that is like.

Driving back and forth between Marquette and Holland/Ortonville
I remember every magazine and book I've read in the process. One time, I was reading Montana 1948 and this phenomomen took place in which the ten-minute-long classic rock song Joe was playing on the radio matched up perfectly with the moment in the book. I forgot I was even in a car. 

There is the December when, after paying our three dollars at the bridge, Joe's window wouldn't roll back up and we drove for ten minutes with snow blowing into the truck.

We love to laugh at a woman we saw at Arby's on our wedding weekend drive. We were waiting for our food (we almost always stopped at Arby's on our way downstate since Marquette is Arby's-free), and this women walked in front of us, glared at the counter with the sauces, soda machines, and napkin dispensers, turned panting towards the counter, and yelled "Yer outta napkins!"

The best two parts of this scenario:
1. She didn't even wait for a response before stomping back to her seat.
2.There were actually plenty of napkins in the dispenser.

Since then, we've probably confused a handful of people with random outbursts about napkins.

Thinking it was a good idea to walk home from Ted and Veronica's house in a blizzard with no hats or gloves (but it's so beautiful, we can make it!) 
Add to this scenario the fact that instead of walking up a building-blocked street, we decided to take a very windy lakeshore. We were so cold, Joe stopped halfway, stood behind a van, and removed his leather coat so he could take off his t-shirt and wrap it around his head. When we finally got home, we bragged about the impressive fact that we hadn't fallen once. Directly after this, Joe slipped on the sidewalk in front of our building and took me down with him.

No one laughs in the face of Marquette and gets away with it.

Leaving Econo Foods on a wonderfully gray fall day:
The perfect Sunday afternoon: a car full of groceries, and that view of downtown from 41, trees, old buildings, Lake superior. When we lived on the Lakshore, instead of cutting through town, I always headed towards the lake and drove along the water. One afternoon in October, I was going home to make acorn squash soup when the radio announced a Tom Waits song, and for the first time, I heard "What's he Building in There."

And for some reason, with the combination of the promise of warm soup, a dim sky, and the creepy creaking of this song, Marquette started to feel like my home.

And all the miscellaneous awesomeness of Marquette:
  • Running/biking down the bike path on Lakeshore
  • Walking alongside a black Lake Superior in the winter, the surprising comfort of letting the wind tear me to shreds
  • Hating teaching, loving teaching, hating teaching, loving teaching, etc.
  • Falling in love with the music of Rusty Borealis and all the nights we spent at their shows
  • Stopping occasionally for the albino deer that lived on our road.

Seeing the long-awaited moose!
 I consider this a true Marquette miracle. For my first four years in the U.P. I have wanted to see a moose. When Joe and I drove up to Houghton in 2008, I scanned the roadside endlessly. And when Dad came up in 2009 and we drove the upper east and west parts of the U.P., into northern Wisconsin, and through Minnesota, I thought I might have a chance. Still no moose!

During my last couple months, I realized it just wasn't going to happen. On the last day in Marquette, some friends and I were going to say goodbye, but Joe was working. The three of us brought him lunch at Presque Isle park. When we got to the little marina building he works in, he stood up and yelled "come with me, right now." And there was my moose, standing motionless under a few trees, as if to say, "Hey, Cynthia, I love you."

I love you, too, Marquette.

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