R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

Mostly not about Robin Williams

We’ve been in my home state all summer with the intention of splitting our time between Key West and Northwest Michigan for a while. It’s stupid beautiful up here and there are a zillion and a half things I love about Michigan. If you say anything bad about her, I’ll cut you. But, as with family you’ve spent too much time with, I feel I’m in a position to point out and magnify her shortcomings. I’ll keep it to two gripes because I’m sensitive to your blog post attention span disorder.

Yep, I can tell the home state honeymoon is ending because some of the things that bugged me before I left here a decade ago are flaring up again. (l left out a hilarious hemorrhoid reference. You’re welcome.) For example, I wrote and deleted the Facebook post below approximately 1,200 times over the past few weeks. And then Robin Williams died. After something like that, you’re a jerk if you post petty things, so that killed it for the 1,201st time. But I’m going to go ahead and put it here, because I think it’s what Robin Williams would want. (Too soon? Oh, come on. He’d want us to keep laughing.)

Hi, conservatively half of Michigan.

I made this short guide for you because I love you and I want you to be taken seriously when that’s what you’re going for. Print this out and keep it in your wallet for quick reference:

NO: I seen
YES: I saw
NO: It don’t
YES: It doesn’t

I can forgive almost anything else you say, and sometimes telling me who you just seen is sort of endearing if I’m in a certain mood, drinking a certain beer. But for the love of Robin Williams, consider practicing these. Especially those of you with graduate degrees. Jesus Christ.

Second gripe: Northwest Michigan is so white it’s burning my eyes. And it’s August, so the first snow is at least three weeks away up here. What I mean is that there’s almost no racial diversity to speak of. My daughter and I saw a Hispanic dude at T.J. Maxx the other day and excitedly pointed him out to each other as though we’d spotted, I don’t know, Robin Williams shopping for high quality discontinued bed sheets in Traverse City.

Coming from an island where there were times my kids were a racial minority in class, this is maddening. [This is where, if I could, I’d insert a clip of Robin Williams doing an interview or stand-up bit in Cuban and Haitian English.]

Maybe it shouldn’t matter because places are what they are, and maybe it sounds dumb, but I’m genuinely worried that my youngest kid will somehow catch racism if we don’t spend enough time at home in Key West. This isn’t an indictment of everybody in Michigan, either. I mean, obviously. But racism, especially the dangerous latent kind, is alive and well here. It’s elsewhere, too–I’m fully aware of that. But as I said, I’m here to bash my own. Bashing somebody else’s is like watching a big brother kick a little brother’s ass, then getting punched by the big brother for laughing at the little brother’s bloody nose.

It’s just, sometimes I miss the rainbowy things about Key West. And there are lots of happy, rainbowy things to miss.

Anyway, stay tuned for periodic updates on this little living-in-two-places experiment we’re doing. You could also stay tuned for book updates if you believe in me the way my mom and my agent do.

Nanu nanu, kids. Depression is no joke. Also, talk right and don’t be no racist.

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