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From Yooper to Troll
My island sojourn is coming to an end.
I don’t have to tell you how much I’ve loved living on this island in the upper Peninsula. I’ve told you many times before. I’m a Yooper by birth and at heart, and that will never change, but within the next few months I’m going to be leaving here for good.
Well, not for good. Forever.
I’ve sold my house. My island cabin. My waterfront cottage.
I’m moving to the ‘city’, below the Mackinac Bridge and into troll1 territory.
And…you’re not going to believe this…
I’m moving into an apartment.
There. I’ve said it. I can hardly believe it myself. I’ve known this would have to happen for months now, and I finally made the decision. I think I told you I’ve had a buyer all along, since even before Ed died. They asked us to give them first choice if we ever decided to sell, and we made that promise because they’re wonderful people and would be just right for our place. It was only a matter of me deciding when. And now’s the time.
I thought I could stay for maybe another year at most, but the house is falling apart at dizzying speed and at 86, having never won the lottery, I’m just not up to taking care of it. The new owners have plenty of building and rehabbing experience and will give it a new and better life. They can’t wait to get started and I’m excited for them.
I know once I leave here I won’t come back. They’ll want me to see what they’ve done to the place, but I hope I can convince them not to send pictures. I want my memories to be mine.
I have my application in at an apartment complex in Petoskey, which is a waterfront town and one I’ve spent a lot of time in, since it’s where the hospital is and where Ed and I, not by choice, have spent quite a few overnights.
When I had my 30 radiation treatments, we had to stay in Petoskey five days a week for six weeks, since the drive from the island to the hospital was 200 miles round trip. We both grew to like it enough to consider it the place we’d like to be if and when we had to move off the island. Ed never had the chance to see what it’s like to live there, but now I do and I’m going to take it.
It’s still ‘up north’ and the town itself is on the water—it fronts Little Traverse Bay off of Lake Michigan. They were my two absolutes: Still up north and near big water. The apartment complex is a mile or two from the actual waterfront but it’s lovely and far enough from the city proper to feel at least a bit in the woods.
It’ll have all the modern conveniences—no well and septic, no iffy internet, no nibbling mice, no rotting floorboards, and—maybe best of all—room for a real office. I’m thinking about how I can rusticize it without going overboard. I can’t do modern. You know that.
It’s a ground floor end unit with an outside entry right into the apartment, which means I won’t have to greet neighbors every time I go in or out. It’s going to take some getting used to, being around so many people again.
I’m thinking of making a really classy ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign for the front door. Don’t call me, I’ll call you. At least until I get to know them. They have ‘social activities’. That seems foreboding.
The complex, I see, is about five miles from Walloon Lake, where the Hemingway family still has a summer retreat and where Ernest spent his boyhood summers. I haven’t been there yet, but I see from their website that Papa Hemingway is their main claim to fame. (Take THAT, Key west! And you, too, Cuba!)
Not to be outdone, Petoskey recently installed their own Hemingway statue, so apparently he spent some time there, too. (I have to say, Petoskey, Walloon’s Hemingway looks like Hemingway. Yours does not. Yours looks like a traveling salesman. Sorry.)
There will be a lot to discover. There are arts communities all around there, and that’ll be new and different after living in the semi-isolated woods. I’ll love that, though I’ll have to force myself to tread lightly so I’m not so immersed in all of that I’ll have no time to write in the office I’ll have fixed up for my very own.
I’m excited and scared and mainly excited. My grandson lives 40 minutes from town, so he’ll be my lifeline if I need it. My friends from the island will come and visit. Besides clinic and hospital trips, they look for any excuse to go to Petoskey, and now they’ll have a place to stay overnight. (Just overnight, people, I’m writing here!)
I’m saying all this assuming everything is going to fall into place and it’ll all happen as planned. We all know how that goes! But right now, this is what I think is going to happen.
I’ve had the weeps a few times over leaving and not having Ed with me. It’s as if I’ll be leaving him behind when I go out the door for the last time. We so wanted to do this together. When I move into the apartment, I hope I’ll have taken enough of him with me so it’ll feel as if we belong there.
We’ll see. Life happens. On to the next step.
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The word ‘troll’ here in Michigan means someone who lives below the Mackinac Bridge. It comes from the fairy tale, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, in which the billy goats have to contend with a troll who lives under the bridge and won’t let them cross. It makes no real sense, I know, but everyone up here knows what ‘troll’ means, even if they’ve never heard of The Three Billy Goats Gruff.