On my way to work I drive down the main street of my town that is actually a ‘main street’ (think Frank Capra movie version of “Main Street” and bingo yah got it). There is any sort of store you would want and not the big homogenized chains but odd little thriving shops that are actually owned by people who live in my town, everything from coffee shops to batting cages to an archery range to a bakery. My town has a street named Beauty Shop and there is, amazingly enough, a beauty shop at the end of the street with a sign that reads “The higher the hair, the closer to God”. I see my neighbors in the grocery store and we chat, I see the people who own the shops in town at the free concerts in the park and they wave. My neighbor is a single fella, a paramedic, and people frequently bring him casseroles so he doesn’t starve on his 24 hour on call shifts.
The other day I was coming out of the grocery store and I needed to pick up a bag of ice from the giant freezer outside the store. I am short and the freezer is tall and I was struggling to hold my groceries and deal with the door and the ice and a man came running up and with a smile said “Excuse me, ma’am, let me help you with that” and got my ice for me AND insisted on carrying my groceries and walked me to my car while chatting pleasantly with me, apparently without ulterior motive.
Today I turned off my main street onto Space Center Blvd, which takes me right by the Sony Carter Training Center for astronauts and right behind the Johnson Space Center. Just past the intersection big glossy cows with clear brown eyes and calm dispositions were being lead by large men in cowboy hats and dusty boots at a cattle auction in the field behind the bank, there were petite oil drills working in the back of the field and the smell of sweet grass from the freshly mowed median was in the air.
I feel like a refugee from a harsh world coming here after Detroit. It feels like I can finally breathe free and relax. In Detroit I felt beset and tenacious and proud of my staying power and ability to navigate safely in a hostile environment and thrive in spite of the world around me. Not since I lived in Port Huron have I felt this sense of comfort. Here I feel like I am home, I am in a place where I fit, where my roots are suited to the soil.