Monday, May 24, 2010 – there I was on the ferry to Bainbridge after a weekend in Michigan… Thinking, thinking, thinking. People keep asking me, and I keep asking myself, what are you going to do after this summer, Becky? Certainly that decision doesn’t have to be made for a few months yet. But right now my life is only planned out through October. This weekend trip back home for my cousin Sharon’s wedding was also partly, almost subconsciously, a recon mission to check into my personal feelings toward potentially moving back to Michigan.

It was a good visit. A highlight was sitting with my parents at Palio, their regular Friday night dinner spot in Ann Arbor. They have gotten to know the owners and dad frequently orders good bottles of wine, so we were treated like VIPs, got seated immediately and got a little special attention. It was great to enjoy a delicious dinner and a special not-on-the-winelist bottle of wine in this atmosphere where my parents seemed totally at home.
I moved away from home when I started college and haven’t yet lived close to my parents or sister as an adult, so it’s easy to feel disconnected from their day-to-day. It makes me happy to come back and see that they have a rich life (I don’t mean monetarily) with good friends and favorite activities and dinner spots in their community. Over dinner we spent time re-hashing great meals we’d shared in the past. “Remember those scallops we had in Friday Harbor after that disastrous kayaking trip?” And “How about that ravioli near the Trevi fountain in Rome” when the family came to visit me during my foreign study? “Remember those melted Oreo cookies on the beach in Florida?” My dad calls these “peak experiences,” and they don’t all have to do with food, although it seems like with us, most do! Fantastic little moments that you savor at the time and then remember for years afterward and can never quite recreate even if you try.

My mom and I also went to the Ann Arbor farmers market on Saturday morning before the wedding ceremony, and I loved it! What a great market – Huge number of vendors and great variety of products to buy. We got some lamb burgers for Sunday dinner, among other things. We chatted with a young vendor about the unusual vegetables his farm had for sale. Probably a farm apprentice, his t-shirt read, “get fresh with a family farmer!” Just as I am happy that my parents are regulars at their restaurant and have a good community of friends, I love that they also go shopping at the farmers market most Saturdays. This is not something we did when I was growing up, as much I’m sure because my sister and I probably would not have been interested in it as because it was easier and quicker for mom to get everything she needed at Meijers. But she and Dad go now, because… it is a fun experience! and the food tastes good and there are interesting things for sale (my mom introduced me to sunflower sprouts– delicious!) and they have gotten to know some of the local vendors they are supporting. We bought eggs from a teenage Amish girl from the Amish community in Homer, MI. I wonder now if she had gotten there in a horse and buggy but I didn’t ask at the time 🙂 I am loving the farmers markets here (Ballard, U-District and Bainbridge) for all these reasons and it’s cool to see Mom having the same experience at the awesome market in AA. I know my love of gardening and appreciation of fresh quality vegetables came from helping Mom with her big veggie garden when I was a kid, so it’s natural that we would both enjoy visiting our local markets at opposite ends of the country. It makes me wonder though: if I were living there now, would we be sharing these weekly experiences instead?

Going home always makes me feel nostalgic about the place and desirous of a stronger connection with the family I now only get to see a couple times a year. As I will be pretty much completely unattached come November, there will be nothing stopping me from moving back to MI or anywhere else for that matter.

But then I flew back into SeaTac and got on the ferry. Getting hit by the salty, exciting sea smell of the Sound and seeing the gorgeous snowy Olympic mountains in the background reminded me how much I also love, love, love it here! The northwest is feeling a lot more like home than Ann Arbor at this point. At times I am anxious to find a place to put down roots and establish myself in a community like the amazing one I am getting to see among the farmers on Bainbridge. Could I find a home like that here? Could I rediscover it in the state I moved away from? Or maybe I’ll continue to move around and enjoy the excitement of discovering new places and meeting new people? Anyway… things to think about!