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Unfolding the story of my life in Grand Rapids

September 30, 2011

My MyGR6 submission made it into the The Grand Rapids Press today. Yahoo! I spent weeks upon weeks mulling over the perfect six words to describe my favorite city. And then one moment when I wasn’t thinking about it, it hit me like a bolt of lighting.

Born and raised in Grandville on the Southwest side of Grand Rapids, my childhood memories are filled with Cone World, Tarry Hall and Wedgewood Park. I remember scooping up clams in Buck Creek (or Crick as we Bulldogs would say) with my brother. Once a year we looked forward to the Hudsonville Fair. During my teenage years I spent my Friday nights socializing at the new Rivertown Crossings mall and cruising the Grand Haven strip with friends during the summer. My favorite indulgences were Spad’s Sticks and Shaved Ice. While working at Russ’ I made friends with Grandville’s senior citizen population, Calvin’s student body post athletic events and met a couple of my closest friends.

I moved away for college and vowed never to return. I had dreams of New York City, maybe even another country. I wanted to experience the world outside of my conservative, boring hometown.

Then I became a mom. And back to my mom I went. At 23-years old, I discovered the East side of town. My interview at Amway unleashed a foreign world. I lived near Calvin College for a while, discovered Eastown, East Grand Rapids, the charm of Heritage Hill and got to know downtown Grand Rapids very well. Around every corner I turned, it seemed, I found something more to love about my once-dreaded hometown.

I’m flattered when people refer to me as a walking billboard for Grand Rapids or ask if I’m paid to promote the city. Nope. I just love my city. The creativity, the events, the lakes, the parks, the music, the soul, the local food, the altruistic people… It was around then that I finally realized that I’m truly happy calling Grand Rapids home for good.

Now Calin feeds ducks in Buck Crick when he visits his grandparents. He’ll make his own memories growing up in Rockford with his dad. He’s got a thing for ArtPrize, Lake Michigan sunsets and picnics in Wilcox Park. Now, with the decision to actually buy a house, I realized my son is getting to the age where he’ll remember the roots we plant, his childhood home, his neighborhood friends, the activities that characterize growing up.

I was born and raised here. I left and came back. My family is here. I’m raising my child here. I’m buying a house here. As I contemplated committing to a neighborhood for more than the length of a lease, it hit me; I’m ‘unfolding the story of my life’ here. Sure these six words may not be perfect for everyone, but they quite perfectly describe MY Grand Rapids.

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