Greetings From: Holland MI

Competitors from a weekly sailboat regatta return from Lake Michigan, passing in front of the historic “Big Red” lighthouse in Holland, Michigan.

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

Home. 

People ask us where home is.

It’s a difficult question to answer. MsBoyink and I have had long conversations about it.

We weren’t from anywhere for eight years. Before we set off on these crazy travel adventures, we were from Holland, Michigan.

“You can’t go home again.”

Ever hear that?

It’s the title of a 1940 Thomas Wolfe novel. It’s the story of a novelist who portrays his home town poorly in a book. The people still living there are so unhappy with his words they send him death threats.

He can’t go home again.

Holland’s “Snow Melt” system pipes hot water under city streets and sidewalks to reduce wintertime plowing and shoveling.

We left Holland in 2010. In some ways, it’s still home. We have friends there. We have a son there. It’s a place to say we are from if we don’t have time for the whole travel story.

And we’ve gone back. Multiple times. 

In one sense, our travels made it clear how pretty Holland is. 

Gorgeous beaches, Lake Michigan sunsets, a bustling farmer’s market, miles of bike paths and a healthy job market all make Holland an attractive place to live.

Holland celebrates its Dutch heritage with an annual Tulip Time festival that draws a half-million people to town each May.

But as we made our way about town, eating meals we used to eat, driving streets we used to drive, shopping at stores we used to shop at, I realized it wasn’t just that I didn’t want to buy a house and live there again.

No one knew us.

In public, I looked at the faces of people we encountered. I tried to subtract years off their face and see if I recognized them.

I was successful twice. One a coworker from over twenty years ago. The other a casual acquaintance from church programs our kids were in.

In private get-togethers with friends and family, few were interested in our travels. We had simply been gone and now we were back. Conversations quickly turned to sports, weather, and celebrity dating news.

The weekly Holland Farmer’s Market features 90 vendors, food, and live music.

Holland, Michigan.

I was born there. Grew up there. Graduated high school there. Met MsBoyink there. Started businesses there. Bought my first house there. Had my kids there.

But it’s not home. Not really. 

And not because it changed.

We can’t go home again.

Because we’ve changed.

Located just over two hours north of Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan, Holland is home to 33K residents. Learn more at holland.org.