TL;DR: I'm feeling emotional and sappy about GR now that I'm moving away. Also, my emotions get away from me in the wee hours of the morning.
I actually grew up in the Detroit area, went to college in the U.P., met a yooper, got married, and followed him and his job down here to GR after graduation. I'm not going to lie, I hated it here at first. After living in the U.P. for a year, I was unaccustomed to the hustle and bustle of city life. And, to make it worse, GR was like no city I'd ever experienced. Seriously, the East side and the West side of the state are like two completely different worlds. Here in GR people drove too slow, I felt like I was constantly being judged because I don't go to church, and I just felt like I didn't belong. I didn't know anyone here besides my husband's super conservative Dutch family and had a hard time making friends.
Now, three years later, my husband got a job in the Detroit area, and we have to leave GR and move to the east side. I expected to be excited to move back to where I'm from and where my family is because I had wanted it so badly before. But now I find myself really dreading the move because everything has changed. I love it here, I really do.
I love that small-town feel in a city setting. I love my neighborhood where everyone is so friendly and welcoming. I love being able to walk to the local market, hardware store, and ice cream shop, and I love when the people working at these places recognize me and say hello.
Now when I visit the Detroit area, it's amazing to me how rude everyone seems. Everyone is just so impatient and focused on themselves and getting from point A to point B as quickly as they can. And they seem much more quick tempered and agressive about it. I suppose this behavior is expected in the city - all anyone seems to care about is the hustle and bustle - but if that's so, GR must be the exception. Because just a few miles up the road from my "small-town" bubble is downtown GR, which is definitely no small town.
I love being downtown. I love the atmosphere. The city is full of possibilities, and the streets are full of people eager to take advantage of those possibilities and make their mark on the world. I love that you can feel the excitement and as you walk through the city. You can hear the hum of anticipation and desire in the crowd and know that somewhere in the city a new and exciting breakthrough is happening, an abtract idea is being brought to life, and someone's creative or entrepreneurial dream is being realized. What I love about GR is that the city is always growing and expanding. There's always someone trying something new. The city almost seems alive, bending and shaping itself to nurture the growth of new ideas and providing ever changing opportunities.
Most of all, I love being downtown on summer evenings during the week. I love the way the evening heat settles over you like a warm blanket as the streetlights and buildings twinkle and light up the night. I love when the city seems to be asleep - when the night is quiet - almost still - and the only thing you hear moving is the river. In these few moments, the city looks empty, vulnerable, and innocent. The hum of anticipation that is so strong during the day seems to waver - unsure - as the once-eager people get ready for bed while second-guessing their creative ideas, stressing about money and bills, and wondering if the decisions they made during the day are the "right" ones. It makes me love the city even more. These quiet moments make my heart ache because they made me realize how much I truly care for this city and want to be a part if it and see it succeed. But then laughter rings out from a few blocks over, and the pulse of the city beats once more. The freeway buzzes with steady traffic, and music plays in the distance.
So why do I love this city now when three years ago I felt like an outcast? Because, after about a year here in GR, I made some really good friends, got over my insecurities about religious stuff, learned that driving aggressively isn't worth the headache, and just started going out and enjoying the city. GR may not be where I grew up, but it's where I started my life and where I really started to learn who I am. I'm really going to miss it.
Except the homeless people on every freaking corner and at every gas station. I won't miss that.