It was September 25, 1990 when Drew was introduced to the world, the same year I was, one month earlier.
In Pontiac, MI, a smaller city Northwest of Detroit. He lived his entire life in these streets, and as I sit at his sister's kitchen table just a few miles away, EDM radio on blast and a Yankee "Harvest" scented candle burning on the shelves behind me, I don't really have all the words I need for this, but I'm writing it, nonetheless.
I was photographing a wedding in Petoskey two weeks ago. We had planned months earlier to swing into his family's house on the way home for a couple days. We hadn't visited for awhile, as this birth work as wonderful and fulfilling for me as it is, doesn't leave lots of freedom to travel 4 hours North. I finally had a stretch of time free, and we were making the best of it.
The freshly changed leaves falling into our windshield as we drove the routes familiar to him from all his time here. In 2009, he left Michigan and moved to Ohio to be with me. We met on Myspace a few months prior. We were both 18. I was hunting, he was hunting, and somehow that lust turned into love turned into a son. A son turned into a home, turned into a daughter, turned into another daughter, turned into a storybook. And even though it sounds a little crazy and a little chaotic and a lot totally irresponsible, our love grew as we did, it continues to.
And as all good love stories go, sometimes there are heartbreaks and things fall apart and tears splatter the pages, but we began to write again, as love sometimes does. And while writing our story, we stayed in Ohio. The rural city of Circleville, where I was comfortable and safe, and my family was near, and everything was as it always has been.
Drew is a patient man. A loving, kind, quiet, patient, hilarious, skinny, bedroom eyes that make me weak, man. He is a believer in me. Always has been.
In 2010, we moved to Michigan. We were young. Cade was just a few months old, and we gave it a go here. Drew worked at an aluminum foundry 70 hours a week. He came home exhausted and covered in ash after 12 hour days. I got to see him on Sundays, and though I took it as neglect for me, his self-care was resting on his one day off. But as a 20 year old often does, I took it personally. I was selfish and I missed him. We argued everyday.
We lasted 3 months.
We packed and left for Ohio unexpectedly and without any warning after New Year's 2011. I called my mom and she paid for a UHaul with money she didn't have. I was sad and missed my husband. I missed my mom. I felt alone. And I spent lots of time thinking about myself. His family was devastated. Frustrated, angry, totally confused. Drew loved me furiously, and was patient and kind, as he ALWAYS is, and went along with it. He goes along with a lot.
We've been here since.
Where there is nowhere open past 11pm except Wal-Mart and my family is 5 miles away and I know the roads and the skies and when the corn fields get harvested. I love the familiarity. I feel safe.
So, the wedding in Petoskey.
We pulled into his sister's driveway, and when I opened the passenger door, I breathed in the air here. It always makes me feel the same way-it makes me feel like I belong. We woke up the next morning and our nephews and niece sunk into our arms with hugs and kisses. Our kids rode their bikes on the driveway, and I watched the setting sun over the airport as the orange sky poured over my van. The sun is better here.
It's always better here.
We're on Day 13 here in this city.
3 days in, we revealed to each other we'd been searching for rentals in the area on Craigslist. It opened up lots of questions and we spent a lot of time inside our own heads playing devil's advocate.
Last night I didn't sleep. I started remembering the comfort of home, the big living room window in our rental and the curves of the country road outside our front door. I cried big tears of confusion and of feeling like the number of paths outweighs my capacity to choose just one. I sobbed as I did a load of laundry and collapsed on the basement bed in exhaustion and defeat.
And then, almost on cue, a voice spoke in my mind, and though I am not totally sure of my religious beliefs right now, it was definitely higher than I, it was definitely audible, it was absolutely calming, and He asked me, "What do you want your one life to look like, Hannah? You get only one."
I started thinking about the things that I love. What do I love? What do I enjoy? What makes me happy and fulfilled?
And in thinking about all of that-about my one life to live-about my children and the legacy I want to leave for them, as well as the example I want to set being fearless and following my dreams, being in love, and trusting your gut, and about being in partnership with someone and the give-and-take that entails, we decided that our best dreams take place in Michigan. Northwest of Detroit. Surrounded by lakes.
In November of 2017, Milk & Hannah will begin a brand new journey by servicing the Greater Detroit area of Michigan.
I'm sure there are lots of questions, and I'm sure there are lots of concerns. I've addressed a few below.
What does that mean for current clients?
I've contacted them directly and have given them the option to either receive a full refund or allow me to travel back to them. It takes a little more planning, and a little earlier notification for birth clients and the possibility of staying with family in the area if things slow down or take off quickly.
What does it mean for future birth clients?
Effective immediately, I will only accept clients in the greater Detroit area and/or within 120 miles of Detroit, Michigan.
What does it mean for those who wanted family photographs in Central Ohio?
There are a handful of slots left for mini sessions next Saturday. That's it. Click here to grab one.
So, I mean. That's that. We're officially Michigan folk, starting in November. We're so excited and ready for what's in store and we can't wait to see you when we visit Ohio.
If you're an expecting Mama or birth worker in Michigan, I'd love to hear from you. I'm ready to be involved in the birth community, up here.
To all my Ohio friends and clients- I appreciate and love you more than I can possibly articulate in the space given on this page. I have been honored to be alongside you in some of the most precious of your moments and for that I am eternally grateful. I am grateful for the photographs. Though they were taken for you, they help me remember all the time I spend with some of my favorite people with their favorite people in some of the most important moments of their lives. Thank you for trusting me.
All my love,