February is a cruel month to move from Texas to Michigan. 2001 was no exception to that rule. A blizzard had beaten me here and met me at the bus stop. As soon as I stepped outside, my nose hairs began to freeze and the need for winter socks was impressed upon me with no uncertainty.
Twelve years and countless pairs of thick socks later and I am knocking on the door of living in Lansing, Mich. longer than I lived in my home town of El Paso, Texas. I am hanging on the precipice of becoming — gasp — a Michigander!
The idea is a little unnerving.
El Paso is the place where most of my earliest memories begin, from stargazing at Scenic Point to shopping in the open air markets of Juarez, Mexico. The home I grew up in is still there with my baby sister’s hand prints pressed into the concrete of the sidewalk. I kissed my first frog, got my first tattoo, wrote my first song and said many of my most difficult goodbyes.
El Paso is home.
My husband and all three of our children were born here in Lansing. Paul and I jumped a broom here. Isaiah has a scar on his forehead from the Moores River Park playground. Isaac held his Dog Olympics in that same park. Levi was born during the most beautiful first snow I have ever seen.
You won’t have that experience deep in the heart of El Paso, Texas.
Lansing is my home now too.
Every year, I look forward to Donut Season, otherwise known as Fall. Lightning bugs and color tours fulfill my need to surround myself with the brilliant colors of the Hispanic culture I left behind. I have favorite haunts on every side of town where good friends meet me with glasses lifted high. These new northern friends rival the “Friends” of sitcom history. They pop in for hot cups of coffee, working dates, tree fort sangria lounging and park visits.
When I first arrived, I was sure that I could never love a place or the people in it like I did my hometown.
I used to believe that cities were loved because they were extraordinary. Lansing has taught me that cities are extraordinary because they are loved.
Disclaimer: I still don’t point to cities on my hand. Maybe that will happen on year 15.