Where are you from? If you can hold up your hand, point to a spot on it, and say “here” then you, my friend, are a Michigander. We’re an elite group, us Michiganders. The group that locate their homeland using a body part, that can have four seasons in one day, that understand that the only season guaranteed in Michigan is construction season. We love our Great Lakes and we know the difference between Mackinaw and Mackinac. But sometimes us Michiganders have to leave the Mitten State and live life somewhere else. What happens then?
For 23 years I was born, raised, and educated in the wonderful state of Michigan. I planned to live out my days in a nice house near my hometown, maybe even with that iconic white picket fence. Then I met a military man and that dream had to be put on hold for a 20 year Air Force career. So now I’m a Michigander living outside of The Mitten, looking for remnants of home wherever I can.
One of the most noticeable bits of Michigan that can be found outside of the state are the Pure Michigan commercials. Without even looking at the TV, you know when one is coming on just from the first few tones of music wafting through the air. Every time one comes on it’s like instinct for me to stop what I’m doing and give the TV all of my attention. Tim Allen’s voice talks about the place I still refer to as home and I watch the scenes, mentally pointing out to myself if it’s somewhere I’ve been before. When I still lived in Michigan, I wouldn’t give those commercials much thought. They were just another commercial, like any other one that came on during my shows, but things changed when I moved. They started to make me homesick; started to make me long for my Great Lakes State. I’ve started a mental list of all the things I miss about home and I add to it every time one of those commercials comes on.
While we currently aren’t stationed too far from Michigan, we only have another year here and then we’ll be further and my trips home will become more scarce. Those commercials have become my little slice of home. If I want to, I can even watch them on YouTube and smile a little. In all the years of growing up in Michigan, I never truly realized how much I took my home state for granted until, suddenly, I was no longer living in it. Now I realize that Michigan is truly a place to cherish, a place I will forever call home.
Kati Bethuy is a Michigan native moving around the world with her husband, an officer in the United States Air Force, and her daughter. She currently resides at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.