The following post comes to us from our west coast bureau chief who is moving (gulp!) to Marquette, Michigan where her partner Zac has taken a job in the university’s philosophy department. Andrea Scarpino will now be our rust belt correspondent. Oy! Watch out Jim Harrison! There’s a new poet in them thar parts!
First Impressions (four days apartment hunting in Marquette)
The Apartment (we didn’t rent)
Up a set of rusting iron stairs dubiously tacked to an outside wall of the brick building, the door to the apartment was locked with a push-button key code. The landlord had told us the key code so that we could look inside the apartment, but the code wasn’t working. The door was still locked. Finally, the landlord called and told us we could walk through the hair salon on the other side of the street in order to access the apartment. So we did: through the back door of the hair salon, the apartment unfolded, an old office space with industrial carpet and one long hallway off of which each room opened with a glass-inset door. Former tenants had duct taped flattened cardboard boxes over the panes of glass for some privacy. The kitchen: a plywood table (counter space), and a large plastic industrial tub sitting on cement blocks (the sink). On the way out through the door to the hair salon, Zac noticed the apartment and the salon seemed to share the same bathroom.
The Apartment (we did rent)
Downtown, the top floor of a three-story building, wood floors, nice woodwork, big open windows. Three bedrooms, an airy living room. The building currently seems to have roof shingles for siding, but the landlord has big plans for an overhaul, and we’ll be just a few buildings down from a grocery co-op, bakery, Mediterranean restaurant, coffee shop that roasts its own beans.
Wikipedia says Marquette receives 144 inches of snow annually. Our first day in Marquette, a sign said 200 inches and a resident told us 240. Day two, we were told 280. Our last day, Zac’s mission was to get someone to tell us 300 inches. Late into our last night, a retired philosophy professor leaned over and said, Some years, I think we get 300 inches of snow.
We stopped in the local department store to look at its winter clothing offerings. The owner introduced himself to us, as did a salesperson with whom we spoke for a while, told him we were moving into town, talked about California. Then we continued on our walk. A few buildings down, we stopped into a bank with beautiful architecture. As we strolled the inside looking at metal work and gold light fixtures, a man’s voice said, They’re moving here from Los Angeles. The salesman from the department store stood talking with the bank tellers, pointed at us. We smiled sheepishly. They waved.
Our last night in town, after finally securing an apartment and going for a lovely hike, we decided to have a drink and some dinner at the oldest hotel in Marquette. The top floor is a bar with glass windows that overlook Lake Superior. A storm moved in rustling the trees below. I drank a martini, the bar’s specialty. And then, the retiring philosopher whom Zac is replacing walked in with his wife. We chatted, invited them to join us for dinner. An hour later, another retiring philosopher walked in with his wife for an after-dinner drink. We pulled up two more chairs, laughed at the coincidence. An hour later, a philosopher who will be Zac’s colleague walked in by herself, joined us for a drink. And then, a few minutes later, a philosopher who retired last year, also walked in, pulled up a chair.