My brother Miguel was an exchange student in 1986. After 20 years we are visiting the little town in Michigan where he spent 2 months, and the family with whom he lived with over there. They haven’t seen in 20 years. We left New York on Monday morning and we arrived to Kinde almost 15 hours later
There is a green sign at the side of Kinde road that reads: Kinde Village Limit. We have been driving all the way from New York, almost 16 hours. The town is dark, you can see the shapes of the corn plants moving gently with the wind but not much else. The lights are off in most of these small one-story houses. Miguel stops thecar in front of the green sign. He takes out the camera and handle it to me: Take a picture, he says.
The brights are on and you can see the inviting sign of Kinde but nothing else. It is quiet, as most of the towns in Huron County, Michigan should be at this time of the night. I check the time on my watch: 10:30.
I take a picture. A car slowly coming from Kinde seems to stop in front of us. I can see just its lights, but somehow the way it comes and the sound of the engine running, makes me feel that someone is watching me behind that windshield. I take another picture, the flash came out and the car turns right on one of the small streets that seem to go all the way into the corn fields. I try to imagine the person behind the wheel asking himself: Is there really somebody taking a photo of that sign at this time of the night?
The wind is a little bit stronger, but it is still warm. Miguel jumps off the car and tells me to take a picture of him in front of the sign. I do it. Then he drives into the town, that seems to be empty. I can hear the breeze of the Lake Huron coming through the window. Passing in front of a body shop there is a guy working, bended in front of the hood of a car, with a lantern. He has a clear but funny accent. He gives us some directions to get to the street where Mike Gage lives. He does not know his house but seems pretty confident giving us the directions to get there.
We kept going all the way through Kinde road, looking for a flag and the Fire Department building. The town finishes and we keep going where there are just corn fields and abandoned houses.The directions are wrong, and there is nobody in the streets to ask for. We turn around over Kinde road and, at least, we find the Fire Department building.
Like in a puzzle, suddenly all the details of Mike Gage’s address fit together. Miguel drives towards a white, one-story house, the only one in the middle of a desertic street. There is an old man with white hair, a round and big belly and wearing glasses, standing in front of its main door, waving to us, We wave back: twenty years and a heart attack have passed since 1986, but Mike embraces Miguel, his Peruvian son, as if it was yesterday when he left Kinde. Mike is wearing a white T-shirt where I read: Michael Gage, Huron County Commisioner.