Monday, April 29, 2013

Zip Codes

Dorothy tells us "There's no place like home". True. But where is home? I have many places I can call "home".  Being at home is all about being surrounded by love and support.

Today I am going to tell you about some of the zip codes I have been lucky enough to call home.

Troy, MI. This is where I lived from birth to age 12. I still have our full address and phone number memorized  because in Safety Town we learned that you should always have that information ready for a police officer but never share it with a stranger. I took that stuff seriously. I adore the house I grew up in. We had a good sized yard, a couple big trees to climb, a swing set and a basketball hoop. Plus, that was the kind of neighborhood that was infested with friends. All we had to do was walk out our front door and we could enter into adventure land. We had this huge black porch that was perfect for summer bbq's and picnics. We'd also usually have an inflatable pool in our yard during the summertime. There's a pretty fabulous home video of my brother, probably at age three or four, "accidentally" dropping a golf ball into the pool and then reaching in to get it. When he saw that everyone was watching him and laughing, he went back in- twice, with a sly little smile on his face. That neighborhood was so perfect. I had an amazing childhood  and a large part of that is because of that house and the friends on the street. We went outside at breakfast and came back for dinner. We went on bike rides to the school in our neighborhood and played wiffle ball or played on the playground. We picked raspberries on the trail leading out of our neighborhood. It was so perfect. 

I was actually just in that neighborhood this past Saturday. My sister, her husband and my little nephew live there now. My dad and I took Clancy, their dog, and Ryan, my nephew on a walk. It was so fun to take a little stroll down memory lane. I could almost see us, our pack, running from house to house. 

On that walk I told my dad "we were really lucky to have this place as kids". Because we were. I tend to forget that not everyone has that. Honestly I would give anything to go back to being my 8 year old self, riding my bike to chase down the ice cream truck. 

We moved to a neighborhood in Bloomfield Hills when I was going in 8th grade. It was similar to Troy, but at that point I was "too cool" to go outside and play with my friends all day. But it was convenient. It was close to the school where I was going and my mom was teaching, close to Church, and it was full of families from our school and church community. I had a few friends living in there, and we'd take long walks around the neighborhood at night, singing our favorite songs at the top of our lungs and talking about boys.

One of the coolest things about that neighborhood is the swim club. Right there, down the street from our house, is a clubhouse and a pool. Let me tell ya, it makes the summers that much more fun. I was on the neighborhood swim team in 8th grade. We had so much fun. It wasn't super competitive and I loved being in the water. I didn't love the early morning practices and the 2 mile runs we did, but hey, I loved to swim. 

It was a tad difficult to live there in high school, but only because my school was a good 35 minute commute and all my friends were spread out. I didn't have many friends that lived near me. But I still loved the house. I had a big room, and while my Troy house is where I spent my childhood, I really grew up in Bloomfield. I spent all my high school years there and had my graduation party in that backyard. I played with my dog Seamus out in the open yard, helped my parents with yard work  and spent a lot of my time in the basement, instant messaging my friends doing homework. ;-)

Eventually, Alex, my best friend that I've mentioned in several of these blogs, moved into that neighborhood. That made life even more exciting. We drove together to numerous events, parties, softball games, dances, etc. Then there were the few times where we'd get a "free water" from Wendy's and go play on the playground at the preschool in the neighborhood. I spent a lot of time with Alex, whether it was in the car or at his house watching a movie. We came up with so many ideas, jokes, and plans. We were invincible. 

I continued to call 48304 "home" until February 2012. (More on that later). My parents still live in that house, though. I tend to call it "my parents house" instead of "home". But really, it is home. Because I know I can always go back there. And I do,  often. It's only about 15 minutes from my house now. I will go visit them on a Sunday afternoon or a Friday night. Sometimes I spend the night and I adore waking up to Seamus running up the stairs or my dad getting us Tim Hortons. The house is fully decorated with pictures of our family, and again, I say, I am lucky to be part of such a loving, caring family. You can see it through the pictures, and you can feel it in the house.

College. I actually think I had two zip codes at Western (one at the dorms, the other at the apartments) but for the sake of sanity, let's just go with 49009. Good ole Kalamazoo. As I mentioned in my Western blog, I adore that city. It's small, but full of treasures. I lived in three different apartments my sophomore-senior year, but all in the same apartment complex: College Park. It was SUCH a good deal to live there. A lot of people forgot about it because it was further from campus, but what they didn't know was that it was significantly cheaper than most of the other apartment complexes, but also about 10 x nicer, and the only ones that came fully furnished. Plus, there was a free shuttle to campus. There was really nothing to complain about, and I had a really good experience with the management. 

It was also directly behind a movie theater  Starbucks, Target, and Hobby Lobby. C'mon. Jackpot! My friend Megan and I used to walk to the movie theater every Thursday because they had a $3 movie and popcorn deal for students. The place was always packed. I remember specifically when we saw Stomp The Yard. Life changing experience.

I had all the shortcuts of Kalamazoo down to a science. I knew which hills to avoid in the winter. I knew the best route to Grand Rapids, another fun town. I knew where to go for a quick getaway or for a drive with a friend. I have put blue ribbons on trees all around the city to represent Child Abuse Prevention. I've lost my phone at the State Theater. I've seen Taylor Swift play live at Western's auditorium. I had a secret coffee shop downtown where I would go to study, and no one ever found me or knew about my secret place. I spent many a night at the piano bar. I can tell you every single house in Greek Village and what order they are in on the street. I know where to go in the "student ghetto" and I surely know the best places to order food after a late night. And, where NOT order. 

I miss Kalamazoo more than I can express. It is such a wonderful place. My roommates and I are planning on going back for Homecoming this year and I just know we are going to have an amazing time.

So, to make a long story short, after I graduated from Western I did a year of service through Mercy Volunteer Corps. Even though I was from Detroit (although not really from the city itself), I wound up being placed there too. Typically you are not placed in your hometown, but the way the cards landed, I called Detroit home for a year. I lived in Corktown, which is the oldest neighborhood in Detroit. Everyone around me was nervous. They couldn't believe I was going to be living in the city. I heard comments for weeks, and even now when I tell people I lived there, I get quite a reaction.

I loved every moment of it, I can count only one time that I actually felt scared. 

We were in a safe spot. Our neighborhood was full of young couples and families, retirees, and nuns. Our friend Dean lived two streets over, and we often walked back and forth to his house. We kept our front door open when the weather got warm and became close with several of our neighbors. On Sunday mornings we walked a few blocks over to church at Holy Trinity, a very Irish Catholic parish. We walked back and made brunch, and then we all did our thing for the day. It was perfect.

I can't say enough good things about Corktown. There are so many local businesses and a very rich history. We lived right across the street from the Old Tiger's Stadium. In fact, we were living there when the last of it was being torn down. We could walk to the Detroit River and look over at Canada. We could smell the food cooking over at Slow's BBQ, a restaurant so good that there was often a 2-3 hour wait to get inside.  We could ride bikes to Honeybee Market, our favorite place to go grocery shopping. 

Corktown is sort of sandwiched in between Mexicantown and Downtown Detroit. Mexicantown is a tough area. I worked there while living in Corktown, at a high school. Even though it's tough, and there's a lot of bad things that go on, I once again never really felt scared or threatened. I never walked alone and was careful with locking doors, of course, but I wasn't scared. Probably the best part of Mexicantown is the food. Authentic Mexican food every few steps. People from the suburbs drive down there just to get some good Mexican food. I still say the best place is E&L. It's a grocery store that sells taco's at their meat counter. And they are the BEST taco's you will ever have in your life. I promise you that.

Downtown Detroit is also fun. You can get tickets to Tigers games for pretty decent prices, see a concert at one of the famous venues, hang out at Campus Martius, go gambling in Greektown. I could go on and on and on. All I'm saying is: Give Detroit a chance. It is full of incredible places. I absolutely loved living there. And that's all I have to say about that.

I now call Birmingham home. I live in a little 900 sq foot ranch house with two of my best friends. It's the perfect location for us right now. It's close to downtown Birmingham, which has shopping, two movie theaters,  bars, coffee shops, etc. We can also walk to a drug store and a hardware store. It's almost too good to be true.

Our neighborhood is mostly families. Everyone is very friendly. There's a school right down our street and you can often hear kids playing soccer or lacrosse. It's a very safe neighborhood, very lively and exciting.

Birmingham has a reputation of being "snotty". When I tell people I live in Birmingham they roll their eyes and say "ooooh. Fancy". That's the cool thing about my neighborhood, though. We don't live by all the mansions that most people think of when they hear "Birmingham". We live in an eclectic neighborhood. Some houses are huge, some are tiny. And no one really cares. Everyone is really laid back.

I have no idea how much longer I'll be living in this house. Our landlord is in Texas which makes it kind of difficult to get things fixed or questions answered quickly. But other than that  I do love the place. It's a good size for the three of us. Who knows what the next 9 months will hold for us. Maybe one of us will get a new job and have to move our meet our Prince Charming. I'm not really sure. I try not to think about that because I am the kind of person who totally freaks out when I have to think about my future. So for now, I just really enjoy where I live, and take it all in. For now, this is home. 

Well, kids, this is it. The end of the A-Z Challenge. I've had a lot of fun and met so many other bloggers. I plan to continue to hop around to the blogs I found. Thanks for reading my memories.


bk86 said... Add Reply

I love your memories about 48216! Corktown is great!

Rob-bear said... Add Reply

Well, a strong ending; "zipping" around from place to place.

I've enjoyed reading your blog, and hope to see you again.

Blessings and Bear hugs!
Bears Noting
Life in the Urban Forest (my poetry blog)

Shari said... Add Reply

I have so enjoyed reading your A-Z posts!! :)

Dee @ A Deecoded Life said... Add Reply

Great choice for a Z! Excellent memories!

Congrats on finishing the A-Z challenge! High five!

dayebydaye said... Add Reply

I have loved all of your posts, Megan! So glad that you found me in this challenge.
What a brilliant choice for "Z". Sounds like your life has truly been blessed with all of the places that you have lived.
I feel like I can call you friend at the end of this and I love that!
Congratulations on making it through the A to Z challenge!

Deanna said... Add Reply

I found this so interesting, Megan. You see, in my 61 years, I've only lived in 2 zip codes! You are one zippy lady! I'm so glad I got to meet you during this challenge. I'm looking forward to continuing to read your blog.

Kinley Dane said... Add Reply

It's so weird for someone I don't know to talk about places I know so well on their blog :) I lived in West Bloomfield and worked in Franklin, so I know that part of town well. And my friend lived in Birmingham for a few years, and I hung out at her house a lot.

And I was just in Kalamazoo recently for work! One of our hospice branches is in downtown Kalamazoo. After I got off, I was waiting for my friend who lives in Kalamazoo to come meet me, and I walked around the downtown. It's so cute!

Glad I found your blog! I look forward to coming back for more now that challenge is over! And man, I'm glad this challenge is over :)

Tracy Moore said... Add Reply

Another fun and well written post. You have a real way of sharing your stories! Been great to meet you Megan. Congratulations on finishing the challenge. :)

Grover said... Add Reply

Great choice for your z topic. I'm glad I found your blog during the challenge - I'll definitely be back for more!

Unknown said... Add Reply

You've lived in quite a few places, that's for sure. I grew up in the same home from when I was about 2 years old and on. My parents still live in the same house. Lots of memories inside and out. Since then, I have bounced around a bit, especially while I was living in Taiwan, but that was a different story altogehter, too long of a story to relate in a comment.
Loved your memories. It has been fun to get to know you, Megan. :)

Unknown said... Add Reply

What lovely memories of each place you lived. The best part of the A-Z for me this year was finding you. You are a gem and I love your friendly chatty style. I look forward to becoming a regular visitor to your little place in cyberspace.