Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Why I Love Michigan City


My latest assignment for my creative writing class had me describe a place in Indiana. It had to be one of my favorites. I wrote about Michigan City:

(Reader's Note: You might want to listen to this song as you read it. It helped me write it...)

Its roof is a bright red, which contrasts against the cool light blue of the sky on a clear day. The Michigan City Lighthouse stands erect as a tall white sentinel on the coast of Lake Michigan. The catwalk stretches up to it and connects it to shore; rocks, giant and broken off from monoliths, gather and rest at the feet of the catwalk and lighthouse. Small wakes glide toward the rocks and collapse, breaking apart and spilling themselves at our feet. The catwalk sits about four feet high from the rocks, and only the most adventurous children hop down and climb around, trying to show off their might.

Up close, the crisp white paint of the lighthouse is a myth because people have scribbled their Sharpie-love all over the flat surface of the lighthouse, claiming that their emotions will stand the test of time -- but they have lived and died, and the lighthouse lives on, grasping the darkness with its glow that rotates in circles during the darkest Lake Michigan nights.

And boats pass, while seagulls fly by, and people line the beach and seem only as tiny dots of pastels.

It's a boaters' paradise, and then you turn around -- and there it is -- so ugly, big and brown, billowing piles of steam into the atmosphere. It stabs the serenity of Lake Michigan. It's the nuclear power plant. Right there! But it's behind me and if I don't want to turn around and think about it, I don't have to. If I don't want to turn around and acknowledge it's existance, I don't have to. I can look forward, with the stretch of sandy-lake coast to my right and the lighthouse to my left. It may not be Florida, but it's only three hours away.

Being on this lake casts a spell over me. I'll drive back and forth on Lake Shore Drive, lined with houses that are on the lake, and imagine my winters there with the cold and dreary sky and the icy lake, where the city is empty of tourists, but quiet for those who dare to live in the lake effect. I imagine what it would be like to spend long summers, from May until September, unpacked and unwound for about four and a half months, living at my own speed, tending to my own schedule, opening my house up to family and letting them stay as long as they want. The houses range from shanties, that are brown and infested with giant grasses, to large mansions painted with creamy neutrals that have ceiling fans on the balconies and porches.

Michigan has its own lake effect on me. And although that bastard nuclear power plant could ruin the city for me, I won't let it. Instead of being the first thing, it's the last thing I think of when I think about one of my favorite places in Indiana.