Michigan is the place where I was the nerdy, awkward new kid, who was bullied ceaselessly throughout middle school, and finally made good friends in high school. It’s the place where I battled depression and struggled to keep fighting. Michigan is the place that tore me apart and nearly wrecked me. Michigan is everlasting winters, bitter cold that bites and stings at exposed flesh, icy roads, and cranky people who are angry at the world.
For someone who moved around a lot growing up, it was always hard to make friends when I didn’t know how long I would be there. It was difficult to settle down when I knew it wasn’t permanent. South Carolina is where I spent nearly five years of my childhood, but it was the first place I ever felt at home. Moving away was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I’ve spent the last 13 years dreaming of a place that has become a once or twice a year vacation.
I know that I associate South Carolina with the carefree, effervescent happiness of being young, and having only minor worries. I picture the state with perpetual sunshine, the sand on the beaches glistening, the people always friendly and polite. After all, the state motto is “Smiling faces, beautiful places.”
I chose to go to college in Michigan, to stay here when all I wanted was to leave. But I also know this was the right choice. I was able to see my family once a month or so, which is essential because my sister is my best friend. In college, I met the best friends I’ve ever had, the ones who are the majority of my bridesmaids, and even one of the groomsmen. These, along with a few from high school, are my lifelong friends.
It is also in Michigan that I met my fiancé, the man I will marry in 11 months. He supports the decision of moving to South Carolina because he’s lived in Michigan his entire life. We visited South Carolina to tour wedding venues and he fell in love with the state, just like I hoped he would.
Finally, finally, I am moving home. We are getting married on Myrtle Beach next August, but we are moving in a few short months. After all these years, I feel an enormous sense of relief that I will at last be able to leave Michigan. I know a weight will be lifted the second we drive out of the state. Maybe it sounds dramatic or ridiculous or insane. But if anyone has ever loved a place as much as I love South Carolina, they will understand. A state is more than just a state; I want a place that is home.
I’ve had enough of the never-ending winters. I’m ready for the sunshine.