It all began this morning while making my usual Facebook rounds. I saw that a friend of my brother posted a YouTube video featuring a vintage travelogue of Michigan from the 1940s. I just had to share it. Michigan is home and has been for all branches of my family going back generations now. As much as it kills me to admit this, I am a Michigander to the core. I’ve lived in Michigan most of my life thus far, I graduated from Michigan State University, and the Great Lakes are in my blood. I even grudgingly admit that I have a Michigan, not Canadian or Minnesotan, accent. Yes my fellow Michiganders there is such a thing.
Once there was a time in my life when I desperately wanted to leave it all behind. Just like so many other people in my family, I wanted to live in Texas. My family’s off-again, on-again love affair with Texas is a separate issue that could easily fill another post. Oddly enough, it extends to both sides of my family. Why do I bring this up? I bring it up because it was through my experiences in Texas, and those of a cousin, that I realized Michiganders are unique.
Let me explain. I have an older cousin who lived in Texas herself for a year or two. I followed suit after graduating from college. I then noticed something when I came home. She and I had our own accents. It didn’t last long as we reverted back to our Michigan accents, but for a while, if one carefully listened to how we spoke, it became easy to identify the Texas influence in our speech. I loved it. We had our own version of Spanglish. Texigan?
The entire experience, which I may have mostly imagined, made me think long and hard about the impact of place on culture. It then occurred to me that, if it were geographically possible, the place that I’d feel most comfortable would be with one foot in Michigan and the other in Texas. Here’s the problem. I love Michigan. My entire family is here, I can’t imagine not living near so much fresh water, and the change of seasons is great, even when someone decides to cancel winter.
Where do I even begin with Texas? I love the independent spirit of Texas, and unfortunately, I find it seriously lacking in most Michiganders, much of my family excluded. There is a reason why Texans are fixin’ to do just about anything. Michiganders, not so much. Texans know how to recognize people with big hats and no cattle. Michigan would be so much better off if we could develop that sixth-sense!
Unfortunately I am much more politically aligned with Texans than I am with Michiganders. I despise most unions, I can’t stand political apathy, and I am all for limited government that recognizes the rights of the individual. I’ve watched my entire life as Michigan hedged all of her bets on a dying auto industry. Instead of trying to build new industry here, we shipped our best and brightest off to Texas, Arizona, and California. Especially Texas.
Texas continues to reinvent itself and roll with the punches, exactly what Michigan needed to do and needs to do now. Texans had the foresight to embrace technology in all forms instead of relying solely on oil and ranching. I think of Michigan and see nothing but lost opportunity. It deeply saddens me. I truly love Michigan and care about the state. I just hope the recent signs of life here are the start of something wonderful. Michigan does have a history of reinventing herself too; it is just that the entire process is hindered by misguided politicians and union influence. Maybe almost losing it all will finally wake up those eternally skeptical Michiganders.
Below are a few videos of interest:
The video above is the video I came across this morning that inspired this post. The video below is an inspiring version of “Michigan My Michigan” that honors those Michigan soldiers that fought for the union. I’m proud to say that I have a great-great grandfather who was among them.
Below is an attempt to explain the Michigan accent. It freaks me out because my recorded voice sounds so similar to hers. If you ever wondered what I sound like, this video will give you a pretty good idea.
- Open Letter to the State of Michigan Government (anamericanpointofview.wordpress.com)
- Michigan GOP Debate: A Swing State Despite Obama’s Auto Bailout (huffingtonpost.com)