Saturday, May 24, 2008

Moving on from Michigan

"If you are here for money or a signature, let me save you some time," I said preempting the pitch. "I don't do those things at the front door."

"O.K. That kinda covers it," he replied hugging a clipboard to his chest.
"So, how's it going?" I asked.
"Tonight, not so good." The ACLU activist on my front porch was slim and young in tee shirt and jeans. He could have been my son, clear-eyed, ready to change the world one front door at a time.
"What are you working on?" I asked.
"Constitutional stuff mostly," he shrugged with a smile nestled in casual stubble.
"I'd have been more pleased if you had success with the same-sex partner benefits at the Supreme Court," I said, looking past him to the blooming lupines thriving in the unseasonal cool air.
"Me, too."

Turns out, he doesn't live in Michigan, really, this activist for the progressive way forward. He was raised here in the liberal oasis of Ann Arbor, but goes to school out east and his family is relocating there as well. They just sold their house. But still he works for the cause in Michigan. He still wants to help here.

We chatted about the climate -- political, economic, cultural -- in our state, shook our heads and parted, well wishing, smiling, understanding each other a little. This summer, pursuing his ideals might turn into just another job. When it's over, he'll return to school and re-join his family's migration east. He's moving on from Michigan.

It's a creaturely thing, migration. We get attached to place, landscape, claiming our habitat, crying for its preservation and protection, associating safety with roots. But many of us notice when it's time to move on, nothing more to graze, too many predators, drought. We hear of better pasture, opportunity, maybe a place where we can gather and create and can be ourselves.

Maybe Michigan will again be a place people seek to settle. For now, she's exhaling, out with the old...