I lived in the same small town in Illinois for my entire life until I came to Hope. I recognize so many faces out of the 7,500 that inhabit my community, I know every nook and cranny of the shops and restaurants on Main Street, I’ve memorized the churches and the best running routes (or the running routes that don’t involve hills), and I can name who lives in a significant number of the houses on any given street. I like to think I know my hometown inside and out.
Sometimes it’s easy for me to think I know Holland inside and out as well. I’ve started to learn all different routes to drive to get to the beach or Target or nearby towns. I know what I want at the Windmill Restaurant (cinnamon roll and French vanilla cappuccino, please). I have all the stores downtown memorized and I know which ones I can afford, which ones are fun to look at, and which ones aren’t my taste. But I can tend to forget that Holland isn’t my hometown.
I’ve been coming here for a week at a time since I was ten years old, but a week isn’t enough time to learn an entire town. I’ve lived in Holland for less than two years, and that is still definitely not enough time to know everything. I pass by stores and restaurants and parks and movie theaters on a daily basis that I have never been to. The only faces I recognize when I walk around town are those who I know from Hope or a few people from church. I know a lot about Holland, but recently I’ve realized that even knowing a “lot” might really only be a small snippet.
My parents brought me back to Hope on Sunday night, and they asked me to pick a place for dinner that they had never been to before. I started listing off places downtown, forgetting that there are so many other parts of town with places that I have never been to before either. We ended up at the New Holland Brewery, where I’ve been many times for their awesome pizza. An old standby is never a bad choice, but I kind of wished I would have picked somewhere that was new to me, too.
The next day, my mom picked deBoer’s Bakkerij for lunch. I had never been there before, but this is one place that I will not regret putting in standard rotation. IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE. If you’re looking for a great place to have breakfast or lunch in Holland, this is where to go. I had the second best omelet of my life there (the all-time winner is a peanut-butter bacon omelet from a restaurant in my hometown that is no longer in business). My parents both had grilled cheese and soup that they said were amazing. I’m so glad we did something new for lunch yesterday, and now my parents are determined to visit new places every time they come to Holland. Fine by me!
Last fall, a friend and I decided to come to Grand Haven to find a new coffee shop. The ones in Holland are great, but we wanted to try something different. We found one we really liked, and ever since, I’ve been driving up to Grand Haven every few weeks to get some things done and enjoy the change of atmosphere. Today, I decided to drive around Grand Haven a little more, and I discovered that there are a bunch of coffee shops I didn’t know about before. I’m currently at The Coffee Grounds. It’s pretty quiet with good coffee and natural light. I’m glad I tried something different!
No matter how much I think I know about Holland or the other towns nearby, there is always more to explore! I’m realizing that all I’ve talked about in this post is restaurants, but over the past few months I have also explored forest preserves, beaches, downtowns, and more. West Michigan never really gets old, but it also feels pleasantly familiar. I am so glad I live here.
“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’ And then he said to me, ‘Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.'”
– Revelation 21:5