Having spent too much time visiting the Henry Ford Museum in the large Detroit suburb of Dearborn, and then too much time in Ann Arbor looking at the town, getting lost and then stocking up on second-hand gear at vintage emporium Value Village, we were unable to get to my university friend Veronica’s summer home in Saugatuck in time for bed. So we stayed at Motel 6, a budget motel chain about which I am sure we will write more over the course of these months, in Jackson, Michigan. Despite having attended university nearby, my only knowledge of Jackson was that it was the home of Philip and Dave, or ‘Big Girl’ and ‘Little Dave’, as we knew them in Ann Arbor. The night attendant communicated by grunting and was missing a few teeth, but kindly acquiesced when we asked to change to a less stinky room than the one we had been assigned. Since we hit the road, Starbucks, a place I normally disdain, is now something I keenly seek out for its distinctly above average coffee. Yes, when it comes to coffee, I am a yuppie. Sorry. Anyway, Sophia, Lulu and I were heading over to the Starbucks next to Motel 6 when a little boy all dressed up in his Sunday best poked his head out of the neighboring room’s door to stare at Sophia. Each time she tried to make contact, he jumped behind the door, too shy to chat. When a group of finery-clad ladies emerged from the room, I greeted them and asked whether they were off to a wedding. Big mistake. “No honey, we’re off to church”. One of the boy’s female relatives then told me the name, address and pastor of that church and suggested we join them, stopping to check that I knew Jackson well. When I admitted it was my first time in Jackson, she popped the question: “Are you a believer?” “Um, I’m um, kind of agnostic”, I mumbled, aware that I was trapped. Trapped, and tired. Who was this woman trying to convert me before I had even had coffee? Weakly, I attempted to ward off a vague effort to convince me of my sins before participating in a very unwelcome series of hugs, handshakes, pleas to come home to God and mispronunciations of my name. Sophia never managed to say hi to that boy, who silently waved at us from the car as they finally pulled away. Pictured is our breakfast, which we eventually enjoyed right outside our room.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.