An intense need for nature
I’ve been craving nature lately.
Back in the ’90s, when my sister and I were still in elementary school and wanted to be like everyone else, my parents bought a trailer on six acres of land in Prudenville, MI– about three hours north of here. It was their attempt at fitting in with the other Grosse Pointe families, with their large second homes on Lake Charlevoix.
My parents still own the property. I haven’t visited in years. I usually just stay home when they go up there, because it’s nice to have the house to myself when they’re gone.
But lately I keep thinking, “Ugh, if I wasn’t such a driving-phobic wimp, I’d be there every weekend by myself. Because even though there are a lot of gun-toting haters in Northern Michigan, there are also a lot of trees, and all I want is to hang with the trees.”
One of my best friends, Sarah, is getting married in Marquette, MI on June 22. And it’s amazing to me, how excited I am about that. I’m not usually the get-excited-about-weddings type. But oh, Marquette. And Lake Superior. And again, my favorite people. Sarah. Her fiance Kevin. Our mutual friend Lucy, and her wife Lina.
I want to climb the Sleeping Bear Dunes on my way up there.
Did I mention that Sarah, Kevin, and I all went hiking / camping in the Red River Gorge over spring break? After what happened the last time I traveled somewhere, I was afraid to give it another go. But Sarah and Kevin invited me along with them, and since I feel safe with them, and felt like I needed to take a really effing long walk, I agreed. And it helped. It helped so much. We crawled around in bear caves, and slept outside in the snow. It made me feel stronger than I’ve felt in a long while.
And so I want more. More travel and more nature and more chances to prove to myself that I can do this.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been wanting to visit the Pacific Northwest. Because mountains. And fewer Republicans.
And finally, I’ve made that happen. I’m going there for a little over a month, starting May 9, to visit a friend and spend some time bonding with nature just south of the BC border.
I can’t wait and I’m also scared shitless because Acting on What You Really Want to Do is terrifying. Terrifying.
But one of my major goals was to get the hell out of this time zone for more than 3 days and I’m doing it.
I’m honestly so proud of myself for doing things.
My therapist and I aren’t perfectly compatible. Sometimes she says shit that just enrages me– like the time when I told her about how a racist comment I’d heard (not from her) had offended me. And she asked me why I was offended, and I answered, “Because feminism!” as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. She then said, “But what does feminism have to do with racism?”
And I wrote in my diary later that day, “OH MY GOD YOU WERE BORN IN THE 1940S AND YOUR SECOND WAVE ROOTS ARE SHOWING.”
But it works, still. Because ugh, there are so many times when people offend me and I say nothing. And then I hate myself for saying nothing because I’m all “Rar rar feminism” all the time and feel like I have an obligation to speak up.
But here’s the thing: Slightly incompatible or not, I do feel safe with her. Which means that I can call her on those things in a way that I can’t always do with someone on the street. And it helps to vent my frustration, and test my ability to coherently explain to someone, “This is why you’re pissing me off. Now stop.”
The only thing I dislike about living next door to someone who is obsessed with keeping up his yard is that springtime brings the return of all the powertools and so much noise.
You can’t be too picky, though. He has a lovely greenhouse. And I’m watching his cat this week, so I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in there, just thinking about things, and listening to the rain.
On Circa, and friendship, and home
Circa 1890 Saloon, 5474 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI.
I don’t know how or when I became the type of person who felt completely at home in a bar. In general, I dislike bars. They’re noisy and dark and have people in them and people make me tired. Especially drunk people. And I am a boring homebody who drinks at home because it’s cheaper.
But oh, Circa. I love you. I love your people and your dark, cave-like quality and your shitty greasy food that my uterus just ADORES and your $1 PBRs and your sticky, unassuming little tables.
I love your people. Did I tell you that I love your people? I love how my friends keep winding up working there. Kathleen serves food and drinks there now, and Lura’s in the kitchen, cooking.
It’s weird to me, how no matter how much turnover there is, I always feel at home.
Circa is right across the street from my school. Which makes it a great little gathering place, or somewhere I go to work on homework in the middle of the afternoon– swallowing cups of coffee until I’m ready to switch to beer.
Circa played a huge role in our production of The Vagina Monologues this past February. Each cast member had to bring a stool to the show, and we each sat on one onstage. Lura grabbed a barstool from there because it was just so appropriate. “Of course I’m going to borrow a stool from my favorite bar.”
After the show, we all stopped there for dinner and drinks.
Anyway, after I was sexually assaulted in January, I kind of backed away from my friends for a while. I wanted to sleep through the entire month of February. I just didn’t come around. I needed to deal with shit.
Then, I started dealing with stuff on my terms. I wrote a blog post. I made plans to travel to scenic places, because nature is healing. And I finally came back to Circa for the first time since February this past week.
It was the middle of the afternoon. I knew that Kathleen and Lura were working, because the Internet exists and they had “tagged” each other there on facebook. I decided that I needed to stop in for a celebratory drink, because the night before, I’d booked a flight to Seattle and finally started feeling whole again.
The bar was pretty empty. I walked in and said hi to Kathleen, who hugged me. And then I glanced back toward the kitchen, and there was Lura, wearing a backward baseball cap, cooking.
“Oh my god you’re back,” she said, and came toward me for a hug. And then I noticed that Lura’s girlfriend Chloe was there studying, and she got up to greet me, and we all hugged and then we group hugged. Kathleen, who’s the only straight one among us, was like, “All the dykes are piling on top of me!” And it was adorable.
An hour or so later, Chloe and I were still sitting there. Kathleen had stepped out to smoke, but Lura was still in the kitchen. And she stepped out excitedly all of a sudden and said, “I GOT THE FELLOWSHIP!” She was referring to a paid fellowship she’d applied for at the Detroit Historical Society. She pushed her phone at us so that we could read her acceptance email.
It’s impossible to explain how magical that moment felt, because you had to live it. But it was my first day back at my favorite bar in months, with friends I hadn’t seen in just as long, and everyone was happy, and feeling productive.
We manage to feel productive at a bar, of all places, because we’re amazing.
I’m starting to heal.