As promised, Mrs Missouri and I went on a week long trip to Michigan (we may have promised ourselves more than you guys). Because we saw basically the whole state minus Detroit, I’d like to cut this trip up in five chapters, each dedicated to a destination in the Mitten State. The first of these chapters is Holland.
Yes, Holland. The best-known name for my home country (the Prince to your TAFKAP, if you will) is a town in Michigan. Big town. Small city. It was founded by Dutch immigrants who brought their wooden shoes, their tulips and their fascinating last names. It was alienating to be in a place where all the mailboxes read like a Dutch street in the 1800’s. There’s a Dutch village, which we didn’t visit, and a windmill, which we did visit. At the foot of the windmill, I found a version of my heritage that I didn’t know existed. First, there was a dance with wooden shoes that I didn’t recognize nor understand, and then the traditional Dutch clothing was explained to me. I had never heard of the wardrobe wizardry that went into old fashioned Dutch clothing, but I feel really sorry for the generations that walked around in them, desperately clinging to a version of being Dutch that was as foreign to the Dutch as the pronunciation of their last name.
I could see why someone would settle Holland where Holland is. The flat land covered by a cloudy sky, the threat of rain hanging even in the clearest sky, and when you squint your eyes a little bit and look in the right direction, there is no real difference between the Holland landscape and the Holland, MI landscape.
After staying in Holland for two days, we went up north, but visited Grand Rapids on the way over. Even though Grand Rapids has the allure of a bigger city, it is easy to have it confused with similar cities, such as Big Rapids, Small Rapids, Tiny Rapids, Mediocre Rapids, and Disappointing Rapids. Grand Rapids has a special place in my life, because I used to live there as a one year old. I don’t specifically remember being there as a kid, but the evidence of pictures was special enough, especially when driving by. I couldn’t resist going to that same place and actually walking where I drove around on my big wheel twenty five years earlier.