Whenever I say I grew up in a beach town, folks usually assume I mean Havana, where I was born. But, perversely, Havana has no beaches...
When we first arrived from Cuba, after a year of compulsory residence in Miami and year of assimilation in Terre Haute, farther south in Indiana, my family moved to the coast of Lake Michigan. And I do mean the coast.
This was, quite literally, our back yard from third to sixth grades.
Many of the homes around us -- some buried deep in the dunes, the landscape sculpted differently every day by the shifting sands -- were summer getaways for Chicago folks and, for us, abandoned castles during the year which we made our own.
We couldn't wait to get home from school and tear through the grass and the dunes.
Which meant that the moodier tempest of fall, the crisp cool sun and windy seascape is what got imprinted in us about the coast of Lake Michigan.
My childhood in Michigan City was neither idyllic nor uneventful nor traumatizing. It was sweet sometimes, and painful sometimes, like many childhoods.
But each fall I get a craving, like a siren call, for that Third Coast. And each autumn I find an excuse to leave Chicago -- where, frankly, I live only a block from the beach -- to search out that other Lake Michigan, the one where the wind whistles and the dune opens up like a magic portal to the water's edge.
ALL PHOTOS BY ACHY OBEJAS