This New Year I’ll be grateful if there’s very little new. Last year there was far too much. Within a single week, I got married, got pregnant, and published a memoir. Six weeks after that I was dragged across the country to live in a house I’d never seen, in Ann Arbor, a place I’d visited just once.
I didnâ€™t know what I was getting into at all. That single visit had been a Potemkin Village tour over a perfect summer weekend. My husband had only brought me to the nice places, the vegetarian restaurants and bead stores he knew I’d like, and he’d coached his friends to lie about the weather.
But now we were living here, and I wasn’t very happy about it. I was also fiercely home- and morning-sick. And so I spent the first few months sulking in bed and reading, by which I mean watching TV mostly but also sometimes reading. Usually the book in question was a doorstop biography of Marie Antoinette. I identified with the royal teenage newlywed. When she married, she also had to leave everyone and everything behind, even her name and underpants. I, at least, got to keep those.
After a little while, I decided it might be a good idea to go back on my antidepressants and get out of bed. And when I did I was surprised to find that I actually really liked Ann Arbor. In the month or so before we left Berkeley our block was cordoned off because of an in-home murder; our car window was bashed in and our things stolen; and a visitor found a small packet of heroin on our stoop. That doesn’t happen here. Yes, it snows a lot, but that just gives you a good excuse to stay home and read.
Which is the other thing I like about Ann Arbor. This is a town of readers, the place where Borders began. It’s also a town of writers, home to Elizabeth Kostova and Phoebe Gloeckner. Loads more pass through, like Ryan Harty, Julie Orringer, and Josh Henkin, whose lovely Ann Arbor novel