2018 Love Letters: One Love, Three Smokestacks

It took me 24 years to fall in love with my city. Lansing is a place that’s easy to take for granted: not as metropolitan as places like Chicago or Minneapolis or Detroit, not small or rural enough for the quaint, small-town/village vibe. Because of that, Lansing always felt like a liminal space to occupy while waiting to be somewhere else; for me and for many others I know.

I moved away for a year when I moved in with my now-ex to a place halfway between our jobs that better fit the “small-town quaintness” bill. This experience taught me two things: I wasn’t in the right relationship and I didn’t want to live in a small town. After our breakup early in 2018, I moved back to Lansing for a shorter commute and reprieve from the stifling energy small-town life had enveloped me in.

At the time, my main form of exercise was running. I had not yet returned to regular yoga (which is my strength training of choice), so running was the only movement and stress release available to me. One of the things I did like about my time in Owosso was the river trail just down the street from my apartment. It was perfect for running. Lansing has a river trail with even more miles to run that connects the city all the way through to my alma mater’s campus.

Moving home after a year away helped me appreciate Lansing more than I ever had. I started taking time to experience the city and realize the internal (and often unfounded) biases I held because I’d grown up in such close contact and bought into the idea that since Lansing wasn’t X, Y, or Z, it wasn’t the right place for me.

I’ve talked before about some of the ways I’ve learned to take advantage of what Lansing has to offer since moving back, like Old Town’s Arts Night Out, getting tea at Blue Owl Coffee, Silver Bells in the City, downtown festivals, trying new places to eat, and even just walking through the city and along the river to be with the city after a long day.

Today’s “love letter” is to one specific place that became a regular space for stress release and loving Lansing: Moore’s Park.

Returning to my return (haha) to running, I signed up for my second half-marathon shortly after moving home. When I’m going through a period of extended training (especially if it involves distance), I like variety in scenery and routes both from a physical standpoint and a visual one.

I don’t totally remember the first time I ran to Moore’s Park, but it’s become a regular destination for my runs or if I just need a peaceful place to decompress. One of Lansing’s most iconic visual features is Wynken, Blynken, and Nod: the Board of Water and Light’s three smokestacks. The park is right at the base of those stacks, providing the perfect juxtaposition of Lansing’s industrial history and natural beauty. It’s also positioned right next to a dam, which gives the park the perfect natural soundtrack of rushing water.

Moore’s Park became a regular fixture as I increased distance and (attempted) to increase speed during training, and it was the place that my mom and I reconnected over Blue Owl tea on Mother’s Day. It’s a place that provided peace and beauty during a challenging year, and a place that’s just far enough from the bustle of the city while staying connected to everything that makes it awesome.

The park represents everything I love about Lansing: perseverance, dedication, beauty, innovation, solitude, togetherness, home, growth, and community. Moore’s Park is where I truly fell in love with my city. It’s probably one of the most unassuming places in Lansing, but it’s become mine. Because of that park, I realized Lansing isn’t a liminal space at all. It’s home.