Welcome to Artifact Motherhood. This is a collaboration of artists from around the world who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles in our journeys. Through our writings and photographs, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now…” -Simon and Garfunkel
This month we headed across country 2200 miles to Michigan, leading to nine days of adventuring in my old stomping grounds with you two. I’ve got to tell you both something – nostalgia is a funny thing. The longing for times that can’t be again sneak up out of nowhere, even when you’re incredibly happy and content in your current life. Wistful memories come in a scent, the clouds, a song, or even the feel of an old lighthouse wall.
One thing both of you seemed to just love was the trip to Mackinac Island. When I was young we went there often. I visited with your Aunt and Grandma back when we were your age, it was one of the first places I fell in love with horses (as it’s a car and engine free island). I remember a field trip there once, and a few of my girlfriends and I braved the haunted theater. We giggled and screamed and thought we were the coolest kids on the block. On the ferry back it was raining and so darn cold, yet we sat on the top of the uncovered ferry boat once again proving our valor. Watching both of your excitement on the ferry (+ the island!) brought me so much joy, I almost felt like a kid again especially being there with your Aunt and Grandma.
On the evening we arrived to my old hometown we headed to the beach with family. I just loved that the old slide from when I was your age was still there, and just as fun as I remember according to you guys. This beach holds so much in my memory vault. I saved a life here. I watched fireworks here. I got sunburns, pretended to be a dolphin, and battled zebra muscles and algae blooms here (nice to see both those are gone now, hah!). I voted on the playground name next to this beach in first grade, and there was something about watching you two now play on it, the beauty of the full circle.
The old lighthouse where we all had a picnic was a place of solace for me growing up. Your aunt and my cousins and I used to head there on Sunday’s while visiting your great grandparents house, a short getaway from the conversations of adults. In my teen years once I got a drivers license I’d go there solo or with my best friend, and we’d sing Tori Amos or Bush at the top of our lungs while lamenting about boys. I brought your dad there once in college, you’ll notice a picture of us on top of the lighthouse framed in our room. It was the first time your dad visited the point, and we spent a summer afternoon there just like we just did this month. It was so special watching you girls climb the lighthouse and explore the beaches with your cousins like I once did. In fact that point and my cousin (who took me on my first camping trips) is a big reason why I’m so in love with the outdoors to this day.
Another place we took you too was the State Fair. You girls loved it, and you also got to see your first concert there. Growing up in a rural area, the annual fair was such a big event to me growing up. It took place right before school began so it was where we saw everyone for the first time all summer. I remember standing in line over and over again for the Alpine Bob, eating elephant ears like they were going out of style, and having conversations with cattle in my early years of being a vegetarian. You girls had the best time with your little cousins during the day, and danced your little tushies off during the evening concert. I felt ghosts of my former self there, and it was a mix of excitement and an odd sense of nostalgia that came over me.
It was both an honor and an emotional ride seeing you two in the places I once called home, with people I still consider home.
We did so much more throughout our trip I could talk about, but I simply wanted to share with you bits and pieces of my former self in the places I took you. You’re both so young now, making your own memories to hide away in that time traveling vault of nostalgia, but I want to share with you a few final thoughts. First, never forget where you came from, even if you leave. It’s part of you. In your blood, your heart. It forms so much of who you become without you even knowing it. Second, hold tight to family. Even if you go through periods in life where it isn’t perfect or you’re away from them, love them fiercely. Go back to them. Talk often when you’re away. Be present even when you’re not in the literal sense. Finally, live in the moment and enjoy today. Someday you’ll be my age, perhaps having the same feelings while visiting a place with kids of your own. I want your memories, that beautifully intense sense of nostalgia, to be as happy as mine have been. I hope I can help you with that.