It’s a cold December night in Michigan.
I’m sitting here on my bed in my house south of Lansing, Mich. It will be the last time I ever get to do this. Tomorrow I am selling my house in order to start planning for the rest of my life.
I am so unbelievably melancholy right now that my heart is breaking. For 21 years this has been my haven, my refuge from the world. I live in the woods with dairy farms and corn fields all around in every direction for miles. I have grown fond over the years of watching all the wild life off my back deck on my 20 or so acres. Deer, pheasant, rabbit, turkey and even a few coyotes abound on this property and area. In the spring my property blooms with bright white apple blossoms, pink cherry blossoms, tulips in a rainbow of colors, lilacs in hues of white, pink and purple, and the greening of my trees and woods. In the summer all the birds that roost next to my house—sparrows, robins, blue jays, cardinals, doves and a hundred more sing and coo their ballads to their and my heart’s delight. In the fall, the maples and oaks parade their colors of yellows, reds and oranges in a blaze of color that must be seen to be believed.
And now, because I abhor the winter of Michigan, all the bliss that I took for granted for the past 21 years will be gone. I am waxing nostalgic in my mind tonight of all that I have seen, done and accomplished here and the memories are cascading through me like Niagara Falls. I will be happy tomorrow when I get the “big check” that eliminates all my debt for the first time since I started college a lifetime ago, but that is tomorrow.
Tonight, however, the memories keep reeling me back in.
I remember my house warming party in the summer of 1998. There was literally a hundred plus people here, including politicians, lobbyists, and a throng of media. It was a bright sunny day and I was in all my glory until some lady came up and said: “Why would a city slicker like you want to live OUT HERE?!”
I never invited her or her husband back.
This is the house that I watched my children become adults in. It is the house that I lived with the love of my life in for a short while. It is the house where my daughter had her rehearsal barbecue/keggar/concert the night before she got married in 2012. It is where I lived when I found out my father died. It is the house that I hobbled around in while battling Stage 4 cancer three and four years ago. It is the house that I fell in love with birds and flowers. It is the house I found humility in. And after tomorrow, it is physically gone.
There are so many happy memories here that it is going to be hard to let go. But there are others that are the stuff of legend around here. One night during the summer of 2005 I had a big shindig on the property. All of my auto racing compadres were here, and we decided before all the women folk arrived we would do some skeet shooting out into my field behind the house.
Well, we shot off about 2,000 shells until I thought they were all gone. A little later, the ladies came and the grilling started. All of a sudden, we had to hit the deck. My plumber friend had decided to get into the alcohol and he started shooting rifles into the air like he was Pancho Villa. We all ran into the basement until it went silent outside so we wouldn’t get shot, and then we rushed and tackled him. He thought it was funny. No one else was laughing.
I remember one night sitting out under the stars watching the shooting stars and seeing the Northern Lights. On nights like that all your hopes, dreams and happiness are complete. I’ll never forget it. I loved driving my Jeep Wrangler back into the woods and just sitting in the midst of the woods and listening to Mother Nature. It is one of the few places I have ever felt real harmony with life.
Alas, the party is over and it’s time to move on. Tonight, however, it’s just a little bit tougher to do.
Happy New Year everybody.