2012-05-24 / Columns

I’m baack! And with a different perspective

A column

Leelanau County wasn’t always a majestic array of winding roads, steep bluffs and mile long roads. At least for me it wasn’t.

Growing up, especially at the peak of my teenage years, I thought very differently about the place I’ve decided to call my home. In fact it could have been a prison.

Nothing intrigued me more than the notion of spreading my wings and leaving Maple City, the place I spent the majority of my childhood. In my mind there was entirely too little to do. No shopping malls lined the street, friends weren’t within walking distance and I had to travel to another county just to get my hands on a little fast food.

My mother urged me to be patient.

“You’re just not old enough to see,” she would lecture. “Give it some time.”

I thought I had given it enough. I mean 18 years is ample time, right? If the area was going to impress me, surely it would have done so by now.

So I left. I gained acceptance to Central Michigan University and threw up the deuces — a sign of farewell — to the county I had grown up in.

At first it was great. I met new people, took interesting classes and was making life decisions all on my own. For the first time in my life I had a real sense of freedom. I hadn’t planned on growing up while I was there.

It wasn’t until my third year that I started to have a change of heart. I could feel my ideals changing as things that had fascinated me at first began to irritate me. Whether it was the roommate that came into my room to talk about his problems after a night in the bar or the train that always seemed to pass by just as I was about to fall asleep. Had I really traded Leelanau County in for bumper to bumper traffic, constant crowds of people and a sky that refused to reveal all of the stars?

I knew I had changed. Grown to appreciate all that I had been blessed with. I returned home that summer with a clear goal. I needed to make this place my life-long home.

This summer, though I’m only into my third week, I’ve taken the time to reconnect with my roots. I’ve taken unnecessary drives down winding roads just to see where they’d take me, stood at the top of Inspiration and Pyramid Point to watch the water move below and most importantly, I’ve reconnected with all of the truly great people that make this county one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Though I may have reached my point of realization, my epiphany, many people I’ve met in my age group would disagree.

The qualms they have sound vaguely familiar, however.

“There’s nowhere to go do anything! You have to go to ‘Tragic City’ just for a little fun,” remains the most popular.

No, the county may not have a city that never sleeps — we all work too hard for that. Nor will it be featured in the latest pop song, but what it does have is an aura that takes growing up to discover.

Whether it’s the solitude one can experience spending the day on Glen Lake — and not on the ol’ Chip River — or the small town closeness you can find at Fishtown in Leland. It may even be the Godlike feeling that rushes over an exhaused body after conquering the Dune Climb and coming to a rest at the shores of Lake Michigan.

I wonder though, am I the only person my age that feels this way? Have my closest friends failed to mature completely or does it take leaving for a little while to truly discover how lucky we really are?

So send me an email at intern@leelanaunews.com if you think leaving the county for a while changed your perspective on things.

Return to top