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Essays by Karen Anderson: Tawas City

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Illustration by Kacie Brown
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In mid-August, my husband and I spent a couple days with my brother and his wife in Tawas City on Lake Huron. Driving east across Michigan was like going back in time—arriving in a town that looked like Traverse City fifty years ago.

Although Tawas City has a Great Lake at its doorstep along with lovely beaches, it hasn’t become a destination resort area like the western side of the state. And after the chaos of Traverse City, it felt restful to arrive in a different space, a more spacious space.

Tawas City has few amenities but many charms. No gourmet coffee shops or brew pubs, no high-rise condos or high-profile festivals. But there’s a nice shopping district, a beautiful library, and a friendly marina where we sat on Bob and Candy’s sailboat to drink some beer.

Later we walked to a nearby pizza place for a take-out supper. And I began to wonder if I could live year-round in this calm, comfortable town? Probably not, I decided. Traverse City has more amenities, true, but mostly it has my friends, my roots, my history. I belong here.

As we left Tawas City, I teased my brother. “What you need is a five-star motel,” I said.

“No, we don’t,” he said. “We don’t want more people.”

Karen Anderson is a writer who lives and works in Traverse City, Michigan. She was a columnist for the Traverse City Record-Eagle for 30 years and published two collections.