For the Michigander, this is winter: you leave work at 5 or 6, already in the dead of night, and fight your way down 94 or 96 or 75 or whatever Godforsaken stretch of highway. You can’t even tell if it is drizzling rain or snow, because the brown salt sludge that sprays up off the road coats your windshield more completely than anything that falls from the sky. Overnight, the road freezes. In the morning you wake up and it is still dark. You scrape off your car, then get stuck in traffic as the cars ahead of you gawk at the SUV that has slid into the ditch. You actually look forward to a proper snowfall, just to cover the dirt.
I grew up in Michigan and consider myself a Michigan native. I point to my hand when I need to show where I’m from (although, Google Maps exists, y’guys — look up Detroit). I like watching movies and TV shows that take place and/or are filmed in Michigan. In fact, my next book takes place in western Michigan. I’ll defend Faygo and Verner’s to a non-native, but I’ll debate their taste with my native-born friends and family. And I will play “Hey, remember that commercial?” with my brother, then spend hours or days hunting down a Metro Detroit commercial from the 90’s just so we can laugh and say, “Wow, that was great!” I’m not planning on moving back, but the first 18 years shaped my being.
But I’ll be goddamned if I defend snow.
Snow is corrosive. Snow is dangerous. Imagine if, for six months, your life was flooded. Your car’s undercarriage rots out, the roads split open like chapped lips, and your carpet is wet for the rest of winter. That soft blanket of powder you see in movies and postcards? Fiction. It’s gone the day after the first snow, replaced with sludge and salt. The kids are going to track that in whenever they come home from school. When guests arrive, you’d better have a bench for them to take off their boots, otherwise they’ll track it in, too. And if you’re a woman, you’re going to have the pleasure of carrying your heels with you in your purse while wearing your snow boots to and from work. Welcome to Michigan, where I-94 becomes a winding gray death trap until May.
Speaking of gray, I hope you enjoy seasonal depression, because ALL of us Michigan natives have it. That’s why we’re so miserable. I’d like to think of myself and my family and my native Michigander as having manners, but terse. The sky in Michigan is a lovely shade of dun, which obscures the sun and your emotions for most of the year. You might not believe this, but I didn’t need sunglasses until I moved to the South. I saw no reason to own a pair if I was going to remain vitamin D deficient for my childhood.
Don’t wish or pray for snow, Southerners. Sure, your Summers are miserable and your humidity makes me nauseous. But I haven’t seen rust on a car in 15 years. And the only salt I’ve seen goes on my food. Even better, when it’s cold in Atlanta, the city shuts down. Ain’t no one got time for that shit here.