You’d never mistake U. S. 31 South for the scenic route. It’s as ugly as its name and U.S. 31 North isn’t a lot better. Still, this is the highway you have to take to get to Traverse City—unless you know the area and can slip in on some side road.
My guess is that most towns have something like U.S. 31 South on their outskirts. Former farmland turned into fast food restaurants, car dealerships, furniture stores, gas stations, billboards, and all the rest. Random curb cuts and lots of traffic. It’s not pretty and it’s not efficient. But here I am, driving it again.
Sometimes I just turn up the music in my car, pretending not to see this urban sprawl. Other times, I invoke a different strategy. “What if,” I say to myself, “everything is exactly as it should be—including U.S. 31 South?”
For a moment, I unclench my jaw and my mind. I stop resisting, stop calling it “ugly,” and just accept that this is the way the world is. I can’t fix it—and it’s possible that it doesn’t even need fixing. What a relief.
Everything is exactly as it should be. Imagine that.