Guess what, everyone? I’ve made it to the other side. And I’ve unpacked enough boxes to rationalize that I’ve earned some time to write you my very first blog post as a Michigander!
The long months of goodbyes are over.
And the hellos to new neighbors and friends are beginning.
Most of the uncertainty is also gone. I’m sitting in my new house. The kids are registered for school. And after my first week of being a freshly minted Michigander, it’s not so bad. In fact, it’s great.
Off the bat, Michiganders are living-out-loud, go out-of-your way NICE. And they are proud to be from Michigan.
Take our first morning in town. With no pots and pans, and not even a table to eat upon, we had to dine out for every meal, including breakfast (oh well.).
It was a Sunday and I wanted to buy a copy of the Detroit Free Press from the vending machine outside this local diner. A woman seated in a booth next to us saw me fishing for some change. Without me asking, she offered me some quarters in exchange for some single bills. How nice was that?
The second (and third) instances I caught on to the kindness of the people of Michigan was at the grocery store.
Now, as I have written in some of my “Good Bye to Rochester” posts, and I knew this would come, but leaving Rochester has put me in a bit of a mourning period for Superior Mother of all grocery stores.
So, on one of my first trips to a supermarket here (and that’s all it is, just a supermarket), I must have been mumbling to myself on how much I missed Wegmans or how I couldn’t find anything in this dingy Michigan grocery store when another customer, a woman my age approached me, looked me in the eye, and actually inferred: “Are you alright?”
This brought me to some clear distinctions between Michiganders and New Yorkers: Most New Yorkers try to avoid looking one another in the eye at all costs. Ever look someone in the eye in a crowded subway car? Unless you want to start a fight, I bet you wouldn’t.
And, if you are in New York, and you happen upon someone mumbling to themselves, you walk the other way.
But here this woman was, actually caring about my well-being because of my grocery store aisle mumbling. I simply explained I was new in town, well, in STATE, and I was having a hard time finding my way around. Even in a grocery store.
When I found the stuff I was looking for, I got on a check-out line behind a tall African-American man. After putting all his items on the belt, he realized he had forgotten a few items he wished to purchase. He turned to me and said:
“Ma’am, why don’t you go ahead of me. I might be a while.”
Again, I was astounded by the kindness.
Another unexpected find at the supermarket: fireworks.
Two years ago, Michigan recently passed a bill allowing for the public and legal sale of fireworks. So, along with picking up your milk and eggs at the supermarket, in the days leading up to July 4, you could also stock up on Bone Breakers, Power Surges and Detonators
This new development is receiving mixed reviews from Michigander retailers and consumers. But, if increased availability of fireworks is making you edgy, you can also pick up a nice bottle of Chardonnay or Merlot. Sale of wine and liquor is also legal in Michigan supermarkets. You can even purchase some Mondavi “Private Label” at Target.
With the arrival of the moving van and the hard work of our movers (a shout out to professional movers everywhere: thank you for your back and arm breaking work. Our head mover in Michigan was working with four torn ligaments in his rotator cuff. Didn’t stop him from hauling in box after box and participating in bringing up some heavy dressers up to the bedrooms. I believe he is scheduled for surgery this week and I hope the moving company is picking up his medical bills.), it is starting to feel like home.
We couldn’t find our placemats right away. Instead, we are dining on the plethora of paper used to wrap all our possessions. Add some crayons, and it’s like we are eating out at Macaroni Grill!
Next time, I’ll write about walking and bike riding in the Motor City.
When I was a newlywed living out in California, I would stop on my way home from work at the Safeway to pick up groceries for dinner. I would cut, clip, and shop for gourmet recipes involving roasted peppers and wild rice and pumpkin ravioli to cook for my new husband. Cooking for two was fun and it seemed we had all the time in the world to prepare a meal.
One of the checkout cashiers would play this little game of guessing what I was making for dinner, or what kind of night was ahead, based on the contents of my shopping cart.
One night was pretty easy: Romaine lettuce. Anchovy Paste. Parmesan Cheese.
“Ahh, I’ve guessed it!” He exclaimed. “You must be making Cesar Salad! The anchovy paste is the key ingredient for a good Cesar salad,” he said with a big smile. I guess in his line of work he played this game a lot to stave off boredom.
The contents of my shopping cart have changed over the years. The newlywed lifestyle ingredients were first replaced by boxes of diapers and jars of baby food, and these items have been replaced by the basic stuff of lunchbox meals and quick meals at home: Bread. Eggs. Milk. Peanut Butter. Turkey Slices.
This weekend, as I unloaded my last item onto the belt, a young single man got in line behind me. He had cropped sandy blond hair and wore a light brown hooded sweatshirt with apparent skulls embroidered into it. I couldn’t help notice that each time he reached into his cart, me and everyone around him got a glimpse of striped, bright pastel underwear that ballooned out on top of his low-cut jeans. Really. WHY do low-hanging jeans remain in fashion?
On the conveyor belt, right next to my boring cut up chicken and bag of Yukon gold potatoes, he placed one, single-serving Baked Alaska from the patisserie. Yes, my local supermarket, Wegmans, has a real French patisserie inside, along with a real wood-burning oven for artisan breads, a sushi kiosk and a Kosher deli.
But this blog post isn’t about Wegmans, and it’s not about the Helping Hands at Wegmans who will on rainy days escort you to your car with a huge golf umbrella and unload the grocery bags into your cart. This is about the groceries of the single man.
So, this dainty treat, with its broiled meringue topping, was carefully placed inside a clear plastic container. This dessert for one, maybe two, also included its own garnish: five raspberries and three thin slices of what looked like the perfectly ripened peach. A perfectly ripened peach — in October.
The single man continued to load other contents of his cart onto the checkout belt – a big bottle of Listerine Complete that whitened teeth while it freshened breath. Several boxes of frozen gourmet gnocchi, and a box of flatbread sausage pizza.
In my head, I silently wished single man good luck for whatever his evening entailed, and hope that whatever girl was on the receiving end of that Baked Alaska appreciated that a man would buy her a Baked Alaska, complete with a raspberry garnish, for dinner on a Sunday night.