It’s 2:44 PM and I’m sitting on a bench in the arboretum at the University of Michigan eating lunch. But it’s not just any bench, it’s the “Poet’s Bench.”
The inscription reads:
“Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better” – Robert Frost
How did I get here?
A couple of weeks ago on Twitter I asked for restaurant recommendations for the city of Ann Arbor. A stranger named @wattyz replied from the neighboring city of Ypsi, that I should go to Zingerman’s Deli. This was corroborated by my friend Margaret who went to the University of Michigan.
Zingerman’s Deli sits in a brick building in the corner of Detroit and Kingsley street in one of Ann Arbor’s many picturesque micro-neighborhoods surrounding the college. The city feels like it integrated itself into the University of Michigan more than the other way around. Everywhere you look there’s blue and maize, right down to the helicopter flying a patient to the University of Michigan hospital. Everyone around town is wearing an “M” and looks as healthy as their most famous backup quarterback, Tom Brady. You can see why Ann Arbor always makes the list of America’s best college towns, with Travel + Leisure saying, “Ann Arbor has the look and feel of college town USA.”
While standing in line at Zing’s we started chatting with the woman behind us. Her name was Christy and she had been coming to Zingerman’s for 30 years. Her husband, Chris, came over after parking the car and became interested in our road trip. He was “born in Long Beach and went to school in Anaheim” and his goal was to do all 50 states by the age of 40. He succeeded and mentioned “North Dakota was the hardest to get to.” We chatted about travel and our favorite National Parks to pass the time and then entered the zany, friendliness of Zingerman’s to order lunch.
Waiting for our order I wandered over to the olive oil section and saw one of the employees trying a sample. I mirrored him and did the same. The 20 year old boy with long, curly blonde hair and coke bottle glasses looked at me and said, “dude make sure you get some of that truffle salt at the bottom.” That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone in the Midwest use the word “dude.” We then talked about truffles and took turns smelling the different types of salt on display. He said, “I work here but I end up coming by three times a shift to sample everything.”
I love Midwesterners.
There’s plenty more to see and do in Ann Arbor, but for right now I’m not worried about it. I’m content with sitting here and eating lunch on the Poet’s Bench.