I was tricked into being hauled into this state when I was seven.  I remember the move well.  My mother’s bribe of a Michigan adventure.  I do not know which one of my parents contrived the excellent idea to leave the warmth of the West for this northern snow.

Snow, when you live in southern California, is just something you read about in books or see on T.V.  It becomes a fascination, especially, around Christmas time.

It wasn’t like my baby sister and I could really say, “No, we’re not going to get in the car.”  Little kids panic at the thought of being left behind.  Between you and I, I had this secret fear of the orphanage.  My father had a day of stationed Naval duty at one and took me in tow.  The nuns gave me orange pop to drink during my afternoon of play with orphans. 

I decided I didn’t want to become one.

Soon we were surrounded by boxes, the big moving truck, and a visit from my Uncle Ron to help my dad drive us north.  We were facing this trek across states to reunite with a family I had only heard about in stories.  Most of these people I did not actually know.  We were stuffed into a green station wagon and the very last to be scooped up and squeezed in was our yippee Mexican Chihuahua.

These were tortured days in the car even with the company of a little sister and our bat like dog. I found myself doubting these stories of relatives and snow.  Thoughts of losing my friends created stomach aches.  Soon after we entered into this great lake state I was missing my prickly backyard and the San Diego beaches.  I yearned and missed our games and make believe play that took place at the end of our cul-de-sac.

After my first Michigan winter I came to a very simple conclusion: this trade to see snow was a raw one.  I know the Chihuahua, if it could talk, would have agreed.

I hated Kalamazoo, Michigan.  This place was not the same.  This new house still smelled of paint and dry wall.  The builder kept showing up to fix things.  I didn’t care for his scruffy beard and curly hair.  I didn’t like him around my mother.  One of the rooms had ugly orange carpet.  Our backyard wasn’t the same.  We had mud for a lawn because the landscape wasn’t put in. 

These Kalamazoo children were not the same.  There was a creeper that lived at the end of this street.  He was grades ahead of me.  He was always trying to kiss and wrap his arms around neighborhood girls.  There was a time he tried to grab and kiss me at his house.  I remember he tried to wrap me up in a blanket.  I just got all hot and sticky and could barely breathe fighting myself out of a fuzz ball laden net.  He wasn’t my San Diego Robbie.  My childhood best friend.  Robbie and I played together, we walked to school together, we had all kinds of out door adventure together.  Robbie was real and safe.  We were a metal lunch box team.  Kissing Robbie on his lips or cheek was as natural as punching him in his arm, going barefoot, collecting lizards, playing in the beach sand, and riding our big wheels and bikes up and down our street. 

This Kalamazoo boy was odd and unnatural.  His watery eyes matched his filmy touch.  This boy exposed me to my first glossy playboy.

Kalamazoo lasted only a year.  I was grateful to leave it.  I was now going on school number three.

I learned it takes time to make new friends.  It can be odd and lonely to eat lunch in a room full of kids that have known each other for years.  I learned how to sit back and read a room.

Maybe this is what fueled my incessant love for books.  Reading new adventures was a way to deal with these hard changes.  I survived this prison with books.

I blocked out the misery of my third and fourth grade.  I just never really got along with girls.  They didn’t like the things I liked.  I was too thin, quick and wiry.  I hated dresses and liked to wear my hair short.  I loved the outdoors and sports.  Boys picked me to be on their teams.  These constant school changes made it hard on my math skills.  In some subjects I was more advanced.  In others I was behind.  Sometimes I had to stay in at recess to catch up.

The fall of my fifth grade brought me Trent.  I loved this boy.  He loved me.  He came in the form of sandy hair that held a front left colic.  He broke out into this cocky toothy grin whenever he saw me.  His face would turn red and he would stutter.  I loved his smile.  I looked forward to him everyday.  I found that he would always be looking at me.  He would always wait for me in the lunch line.  He was the most popular boy in our class; the most popular boy in our school.  He loved to help me with my math.  He wanted me to succeed.

I was always on Trent’s team.  He let everyone know why.  The girls hated and envied me.  I loved every minute of this fifth grade existence.  He made my heart pound.  I could hear it in my ears.  At times, when he shot me that smile, I couldn’t breathe.

After that year my parents had their discussions.  I was put into a different school district again.

All these transitions.  All these books.  All these changes.

And all this god damn Michigan snow.

These changing leaves.  Michigan molting it’s greens into bright yellows and pumpkin oranges that change into barn reds.  These bursts of sun colors burning themselves into dry crackling browns.  Their flames lick the tree branches bare.

My professor told me this is how relationships work.  They come in seasons.  I didn’t need him to remind me of it.  My childhood was, and is, a constant reminder of this natural fact.

Just because changes are inevitable doesn’t mean I have to like them.  I hate my Michigan summers folding into ribbons of fall that package harsh winters.  I am tired of shoveling all this god damn Michigan snow.  I hate these chapped cracked hands holding my mug full of hot chocolate even when it’s mixed with peppermint schnapps.  I hate having to pay for AAA roadside assistance.

I want to catch my cottage summers and leaves of fall and press them into waxed paper.  I want to preserve them like I preserve my family photographs.

Maybe this is why I do not like to change the location of furniture in a room.  I do not like to change the make and model of my car.  I keep the same employment, never fire employees, and never switch jobs.  I like to wear my jeans as worn and tattered as my shoes.  I like to put my keys in the same spot.  I like to sleep on the left side of my empty bed.  When I find a breakfast place or restaurant I like I frequent it.  I order the same meals off their menus.

I know many people. I do not have many friends.  The ones I have I treat like glass.  When I find something I cherish I have this desire to keep it close.  I know winters will come.  I am helpless to stop unwelcome changes.

So I dream.  I dream of a season that stays a Michigan summer or sunny fall.  This I could continually love.  I smell apple pie.  I am drinking cider spiced with cinnamon and rum.  He is warm and waiting in my night-time bed.  We both share bedroom whispers and conspire to succeed.  We both agree on the terms of the chores.  We both listen to each other.  Firm and kind words are used when we disagree.  Compromises are easy because he is so damn witty and intelligent.  He cares about my day.  I care about his.  His words are kind and encouraging.  He wants to help.  So do I.  We eat our dinners together.  He sees my flaws and hears my secrets but he doesn’t use this information against me.  He only wants to sit next to me.  He has that cocky grin and kind eyes.  I am envied by the other girls. I don’t have to move.  Maybe I would iron his shirts.

I know loving him would be as easy and natural as waves that lap California beach sand.

I feel I have experienced a life time of these god damn Michigan winters.