“The next 3 days off I have in a row are May 26-28, unless you want to wait until June,” read the little, green text bubble. It was settled then. I would spend those days in Marquette with my best friend and mischievous sidekick from college, playfully known as Gilly, whom I hadn’t seen since I graduated 3 years ago.
My first time in the Upper Peninsula would be spent in tranquility among good company. What more could I ask for? Sunny skies led the way across the Mackinac Bridge which, on a clear day, has the most magnificent view EVER. It felt like I was flying over water.
As I stepped outside after my long 7 hour drive, I was keeping an eye out for Gilly’s blue van with my phone glued to my ear trying to track him down. “I see you!” He scooped me up, parked the car, and we made our way down to the water for the start of three glorious days of catching up. But first, not without the familiar bear hug I was so spoiled with back in school nearly 10 times a day.
We left our sandals behind as we jumped from boulder to boulder along the break wall to the lighthouse. When we got to the end, we sat down, reminisced about college, waded through happenings of the past 3 years, and let our imaginations run wild of building and living in a tiny house village. We had picked up right where we left off just as I could always count on.
Later that evening, we spent hours at his friend’s house where we grilled a variety of meats on a questionable grill and played cornhole until the sun went down. I tried reindeer for the first time (sorry Bambi and Rudolph), and after a few drinks, we weren’t so much making actual progress with our cornhole skills as we were just hitting each other with the sacks.
The following day, Gilly, his girlfriend, and I climbed Sugarloaf Mountain, went driving around and hiking along different parts of the lake, and I even took a half nap on the rocks with the sun and breeze from the water rocking me to sleep. Other miscellaneous activities included dog walks, Hangover 3, a visit to Lakenland Sculpture Park, drinks at Porthouse Inn, and a movie night featuring Book of Eli. Despite feeling nervous about playing host to his hometown, Gilly did a wonderful job, and of course, I reminded him that it was more about the reunion than checking off another new destination.
On the morning of my departure, what I expected to be a quick two second goodbye turned into an hour and a half conversation on the balcony of his 3rd floor apartment drinking tea and coffee like a still out of the movie UP. In his company, without fail, I get to enjoy rich food for thought discussions. It’s both a relief and a real treat away from the shallow conversations about work and weather of which my days are usually full. He gives me the chance to listen and take a rest from the same robotic answers I keep giving about my travels.
For the first time since Japan, Marquette has captured my heart. Everyone is so nice, down to Earth, and the city is so picturesque and safe. Not to mention that my best friend’s love for his own city makes it that much more special for me.
I’ve been warned not to keep loose lips about the hidden gem that is Marquette so let this be our little secret.