Last Sunday, I decided to take my dog Dulce to the park. As we turned from our front walk to the sidewalk, I noticed a somewhat sketchy dude walking about 50 feet behind us. That's no big deal as I often see sketchy dudes walk by my place to get to the liquor store on the corner. But after we turned down Forest Street toward Frog Island, I noticed the same man behind us. As we were approaching the narrow part of the walkway that spans the bridge over the river, I slowed Dulce down and tried to interest her in a stinky pile of dirt so the guy could pass us. As he walked by, he muttered something to me. My initial reaction was to smile at him, because I figured he must have been commenting on Dulce's cuteness. After all, she looks like this ~
But once I glanced at his grumpy mug I was able to make out the exact words behind his bitter snarl. "Are you walking that dog or is he walking you?"
I can think of so many better ways to let a person know that they're in your way. "Excuse me" would have worked. Even the more abrupt "Could you please move?" would have been better than his snide comment.
A month ago, I would have been thoroughly desensitized to this nonsense, but then I went south to Nashville where I made the most pleasantly shocking discovery. The people there were polite to me all the time. Some were even downright friendly! At some point in the midst of my brief trip, I realized that not one person acted like a jerk for no good reason. Now that I'm back in Michigan, I have to say that dealing with this "no good reason" jerkiness is the hardest part of being here.
But who am I fooling? I'm not so obtuse as to believe that there's no good reason for the cloud of depression hanging above the mitten state these days. Honestly, this place is screwed. If you haven't lost your job and/or your house yet, then you probably know at least five other people who have. And it isn't going to get better any time soon. I think our best hope is my friend S's theory that global warming will make this an agricultural hotspot in about 20 years (and judging by our recent good weather, and the much worse blizzard conditions in typically warmer states this winter, she may be onto something). What else do we have?
I used to think that if I had a perfectly stable source of income, I would want to buy a house and stay here for good. I've made a lot of wonderful friends here and I think this is a beautiful place. But I'm done, y'all. Living here has become a severe bummer trip and it's killing my spirit. I've become especially disheartened since I noticed that a sweetly springy four-day heatwave hasn't overcome the general social grumpiness that I would have traditionally attributed to winter. If anything, it's just made everyone behave worse.