Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Diary: Michigan Trip, August 2007.



Last Wednesday, almost a week ago, I left work at 5:30 after crushing through a heavy load of caption updates. I took the train to the bus and the bus to the airport, and I got my ticket and a hot dog and a coffee and waited for the plane. My flight left on time and I read Hughes/Honour on the way, sitting next to a very talkative group of interior decorators heading home from a conference in Connecticut and a family in Tigers' caps and jerseys that had gone to three of four Detroit-Yankees games, the Yankee Stadium tour, and the Cyclones. We landed at eleven something in Romulus and I met Cody and Catherine in the baggage claim, and we drove home through Detroit. Michigan was twenty degrees warmer than New York. We listened to hip hop and a storm broke around Waterford, with lightning arcing down like a claw complete with an opposible thumb. It was a huge storm, but it blew over about the time we reached Flint, and the rest of the ride to Flushing went smoothly. We got in around one, and I sat up and talked with my parents for awhile before we all went to bed. I had a strange and compelling dream.

On Thursday, I got up early, and spent most of the morning book spelunking. Meanwhile, in downtown Flint, a large building collapsed. At 11:30, Catherine and Cody were ready to go to Band Camp, so we drove down to Oxford, which is midway between Lapeer and Pontiac. After I dropped them off at about one, the car was mine. I gassed up and drove back into Flint, making runs on the PHs (not home), the Crawfords (not home), and FYT (sleepy and nearly empty). Dejected, I went to the Atlas for a coney, two eggs and hash browns, and a half-dozen cups of coffee to raise my spirits. Flint is the greatest city in the whole wide world, but almost everyone I know there has moved away, so I often end up getting a little lonely while I'm there. My waitress was superlative, so I borrowed some of her energy and decided to think my way into a solution. I knew that I could find people if I was creative. At a little after four I paid my bill, fired up the radio, and took the Corunna road back toward Downtown. I went to Carriage Town to the Good Beans cafe, where I visited with Ken (who I haven't seen in a couple years). It turns out that he'd sent my wife and I a wedding gift but that it had been mislaid in Chicago because we'd already moved. But things seem to be going as well as can be expected in Carriage Town, and the local theaters have formed a consortium called L.O.F.T. – League of Flint Theatres – for mutual promotion. After exchanging information, I set out to find Lyn. I thought that I remembered what street she lived on, and I thought that I could remember the house. I knew that the street was off Fenton Road. But I didn't know where. After touring the whole stretch from Hemphill almost south to Grand Blanc, I arrived. It was good that it had taken so long; she had just gotten home. We spent the rest of the evening at her house, often on the porch, playing with Z and talking about music and friends. I was grateful. She gave me a lot of hip hop to check out. By eight it was starting to cloud over, though, and I had to pick up my wife from the airport. So I headed south on 23, which swung into 96 before looping into 275. I avoided the swollen storm that was making its way from west to east across Livingston and Oakland counties, got to Metro without incident, picked up the wife, and we made a stop at a Taco Bell populated entirely by emo boys. We called it the 'Emo Bell.' Back on 23, though, north of Brighton, we drove right into a second storm that dropped so much rain that I couldn't see anyone before me or behind me, and would've pulled over if I could've clearly seen where the shoulder stopped and started. When we finally got home, we repeated the process of the night before. Stay up, talk, and finally go to bed.

On Friday, I meant to go to a daily mass for St. Bartholomew. But I slept in. Evil, sinful me. I confirmed plans with Katie (who I'd finally reached after several months of trying), and my wife and I headed out to hit the Goodwill on Pierson Road. The Goodwill on Pierson Road was closed down. That's a real shame, because it always was the very best Goodwill. Instead, we hit the Goodwills on Saginaw and Center Roads. There are a lot of Goodwills in Flint, and our quick, efficient sweep netted several quite-cool shirts I saw at K-Mart back in 2003 but was too broke to afford, and a jacket for the wife. We continued on and picked up Cody and Catherine from Oxford; made it home by a bit after five. It was time to go meet Katie. We drove down to Genesee Valley and just as we were pulling off of Lennon Road, I heard something that I've never heard in New York. Tornado Sirens. There were two tornados in Fenton, which is generally considered to be about the most far flung of Flint's suburbs. Global warming schlobal schorming. Actually we'd left a nadir in the sticky!hot New York summer just to arrive for the most eventful weatherful week in the Midwest, since Chicago also got swamped. The storm held up David and Katie, but while they were waiting for it to blow over, my wife and I sat at the Bar Louis and drank martinis and beers. Then our friends arrived, and we visited with them for an hour, sharing information, talking about Flint and kids, and eating the largest appetizer plate of nachos I've ever imagined (seriously, the thing was as big as my head; easily worth two entrees). After an hour Dave and Katie had to take their kids to Katie's brothers wedding, but I did get to see her mom again, and Lily, who's grown so much that it's truly terrifying to me. Simon, on the other hand, was serious and silent. My wife went to get her hair cut, and we picked me up a pair of jeans and khakis, and a hoodie, because I've always worn Sam's, and it's too big for me.

On Saturday, I'd thought of going to the Crim. But I slept in. Evil, sinful me. Also, for the first day of our visit there was no major storm in Michigan. Which was fortunate, because it was also the day of my mom's party, which was outside. There was some mist and rain early in the day, but it cleared up in the early afternoon. First, I made a trip back to Genesee Valley to find my journal, which I'd left at Steve and Barry's the night before. I couldn't resist the opportunity to get a green tinted watch that caught my eye, and a matching silver watch for my wife, and two gothish rings from Hot Topic. Flint is a cheap place to get yourself blinged out. I got back in time to arrange a blitzkreig reunion with John and Carol Crawford at their house, and the wife and I were at home for good around three. Now all day long (and actually, for several days) my mom had been getting ready for the party this Saturday. It was an all-purpose party of sorts: my birthday, as well as my wife's, my brother's and sister's, my grandma's and aunt's, my sister's new job, my graduation, and my brother's pending graduation. When the weather was clear for good, we set up a tent out back and tables and chairs. We also had a plug-in fountain that Cody-the-engineer upgraded with rocks to be more effective. It all took a while to set up, but Peg came over. The work was manageable, and so we were able to go at a steady pace. Around six my grandma and aunt showed up, and so did family friends from Flushing. We ate salmon and chicken, pasta and couscous, brownies and ice-cream cake and a lot of bruschetta. Eventually, the sun went down, but we had light from Tiki torches and rice lights that Cody and I had put on a tree. It was gorgeous, and there weren't too many bugs; a perfect August evening. Late August. Because August is winding down. After the family friends had left, the rest of us went inside to the living room, and drank coffee, read cards and opened presents (mostly cards). I got a set of dice in a bag that Caitlin hand-knitted, and my Aunt gave me the third season of Taxi. The best part, of course, of these events is always the sitting-and-the-talking, and we managed to hold people awake until almost one.

On Sunday, I was supposed to go to mass, but I slept in too late. I did, however, go to the UU Church with Caitlin to see Cody and Catherine perform, and to touch base with Rita and various other ne'er-do-wells from my ancient past. Evil, sinful me! We took our time at the coffee hour, walked through the memorial garden, and finally got home around one. My wife and I went into Flushing to visit with grandma for awhile, and when we got home, my mom took us with Caitlin to see Hairspray in Birch Run. This was fun. The film was colorful and noisy, and set in Baltimore of all places. Afterwards, we took the back roads home to avoid the traffic on 75, and Cody and Catherine prepared us a three-course British meal. Leek soup, a potato stew (I don't remember what it was called), and berries with cream. Finally, Lisa came over and my wife and I went for a ride with her. We ended up at Angelos and ranged over every subject ever. We got home at 1:30, and Lisa drank some coffee and set out on her way.

Monday was crappy for various reasons. Almost all of them had to do with heading east again. But we said goodbye, and my dad gave us a ride to the airport. When my wife got home from class that night, we ate Indian food from Kinara's and watched our Rome DVDs. Next week, Cody and Catherine will be visiting again.

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