For some people, returning home is one of the most exciting events that they can do over a weekend or even for summer. For me, I found home when I moved to Ann Arbor- at least much more of a home than Jonesville or Hillsdale. However, I love spending time with my family and friends so I decided I would come home for the second half of the summer for my internship experience; I also really wanted to give back to an organization that had helped my family in our time of need. At first, I was so excited about coming home that I could not stop talking about it. This lasted all the way until about my first week being home when I realized that while it was great being with the people I love, it was not all that wonderful living in this area again. Jonesville and Hillsdale are two cities within Hillsdale County which is located in southern mid-Michigan (also known as the Tri-State area). Both areas are very conservative, very religious, and very set in their ways; throughout my years of living years, I have encountered many racists, homophobes, and just generally close-minded people. I do not mean to sound as if I am shaming these people, it is just these characteristics are pretty much the opposite of who I am. That made growing up here very difficult at times, however, I was hoping to have seen some change in Hillsdale as I have not lived here for a while. Rather, it seems that either I have changed a lot from living in Ann Arbor or this area has regressed in the past couple of years. There is more “my way or the highway” behavior now than before and in my short time of being back, I have never felt so uncomfortable being myself. Domestic Harmony had kind of been my safe haven while being here- working in a no judgment, no discrimination job has been a blessing and I hope that other people in Hillsdale recognize this incredible place that is located here.
So while I love being close to my family, friends, and pets for the second half of the summer, I think this will be the last time that I spend any extended time in Hillsdale County. I have been so lucky as to work in an amazing place with incredible women which makes it even more heartbreaking when I see how unresponsive people in this area can be towards the changes they are trying to make for the better. Though I sometimes regret living in this area, I am glad that I took this opportunity and experience. It has showed me just how much impact your surrounding area can make on jobs, education, and even personal feelings. I feel like I have been pushed to be a more understanding, thoughtful, and patient person from living here once again and for that, I will always been thankful. So while Hillsdale County may be where I grew up, it definitely is not my home any longer and so I probably will not return too much in the future. I appreciate how much of an impact it has had on my life but I feel like I can no longer benefit from living here so when I return to Ann Arbor in a few weeks, I will also be saying goodbye to my old home.