30 Days in Grand Rapids

I quit my job. Today was my last day. I am now unemployed.

I won’t get into the specifics of what my job was like or why I left, although I will say that I left on my own accord. I had gone as far as I could go and there was no future for me there. I’m 31 years old; I don’t want to waste my time. I’m ready for a job that I’m interested in, that challenges me, that (at the very least) I enjoy (since that’s never been the case in the decade I’ve spent in the workforce).

To be unemployed is liberating. And terrifying. I literally have no idea what my life will look in a month, in six months, in a year. What will my next job be? Will I be a project manager, an event coordinator, a fundraiser, an administrative aid, a marketing manager? I am somewhat qualified for all of these titles.

Or I could go a completely different and unorthodox route. I could focus more on teaching college English. I could start freelance writing. I could take a part-time job at some shop around the corner and try to write a book. I could go back to school and get my PhD.

As if those weren’t enough options, I’ve also been suggesting to my husband the idea of moving. We love Detroit, and Detroit is full of opportunity right now. Or the corporate office of my ex-job was impressed with me and may offer me a job in New York City; we could move there. A good friend of mine will be moving to New Mexico next month to try something different and start over; wouldn’t it be fun to do that, too? There is nothing tying us down to Grand Rapids, really.

Nothing tying us down, that is, but ourselves. We love it here. It is our home.

I moved here in 2002 to go to college. It was my second choice. I wanted to live in Ann Arbor and attend the University of Michigan. I wanted to walk on the quad and study in a library that was a hundred years old. I wanted to walk to Urban Outfitters and watch football games in the Big House. That was my dream all throughout high school. But U of M was too expensive for me, so as a consolation prize, I followed my best friend to Grand Rapids.

Granted, the campus of GVSU is NOT in Grand Rapids. It is in a suburb of the city surrounded by fields. But in my four years there, I ventured out to the city more and more and became familiar with the area. During my senior year of school, my best friend and I moved into an apartment in the northeast corner of the city, at the end of what locals call Medical Mile (aptly named for the string of specialty hospitals that line Michigan Street). From there, we could either walk into the heart of the city or take a more scenic route through Grand Rapids’ historic Heritage Hill neighborhood. This is where I learned the city and learned to love the city. I was face to face with it every day--face to face with its buildings, its sounds, its people, its energy. The city was and still remains full of an unexplainable energy. And it energizes me.

The city has changed so much in my decade of living here. So many new restaurants, new buildings, new ideas. Its people are inventive and passionate; they want to make a difference and they want to make that difference here. I’m constantly pleasantly surprised by what this city can do.

So although I don’t know what my life will look like in a month, in six months, in a year, I know where I can watch it all happen: here in Grand Rapids.

For the next 30 days, I’m going to explore this city I call home, get even more familiar with it, and share all of its gems and secrets with you. So welcome to Grand Rapids, everyone. Hope you like what I show you.