Choosing Lansing: Sam and Meghan Short
With dogs named Aoife and Miss Leonard Nimoy, you know you’re in for an eccentric treat meeting the Shorts. Sam and Meghan Short, and their 8 month-old son, Jack, have called the woodsy and charming Pinecrest neighborhood in East Lansing home since June 2010. Their journey of settling in the Lansing area is a colorful tale and promises some exciting chapters ahead.
Mixed Bag Romance
Sam and Meghan’s relationship started somewhat surreptitiously. “We met long enough ago that I could stalk her on MySpace,” Sam jokes. The couple, who lived some 1,700 miles apart from one another, was first introduced at a wedding in Grand Rapids. At the time, Sam was living and working in Phoenix and Meghan in Chicago. After hitting it off at the wedding, going back to their respective states and some innocent internet stalking, the pair got to know one another through email and phone conversations. This led to a weekend of first dates in Chicago and then transitioned into a long distance relationship.
Prior to meeting, both Sam and Meghan led interesting lives; both consider themselves nomads and are academically accomplished. Sam grew up in a jet-setting family, calling Ecuador, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Germany and Arizona all home. He graduated from high school in Sedona, Arizona and completed his undergrad in mathematics at Dartmouth in New Hampshire. Meghan moved around the U.S. growing up, and graduated from high school in Dexter, Michigan. She attended the University of Michigan for undergrad and completed law school at Michigan State University. Sam, being an accomplished jack-of-all-trades, pursued a graduate degree in sculpture at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. So, when they finally moved in with one another and married in 2009 while in Chicago, the experiences and miles accumulated between them was quite the pairing.
Meghan went to Chicago after law school to become a public defender, first working for the city in their fleet of attorneys. Sam was in Phoenix working both as an artist and in the bar/restaurant business. After moving to Chicago, Sam focused his talents more on the restaurant industry, opening successful restaurants there. Those individual talents led the Shorts to Michigan after they decided it was time to move to the next phase of their lives.
Calling herself a “law school guidance counselor,” Meghan is now the co-Director of the Academic Success Program at MSU College of Law, a program she helped start from scratch. “Traditionally law students were thrown to the wolves or subject to the sink or swim mentality,” Meghan says. “The current movement in legal education has been to provide more support for students to explain and help in the complicated process.”
Sam continued on the restaurant and bar path, teaming up to help open dining establishments. During this time, he met up with a group of people who are focused in Old Town development. They teamed up and have begun some exciting projects in the area. “We’re currently focusing on one business,” Sam reports. “It’s in the middle of financing, so I can’t say much. But it’s going to be a blast.”
As a professional sommelier, Sam has a depth of experience and knowledge he is excited to translate to the Lansing dining scene.
“In this day and age, it’s not just about having a good wine list – the key is having a good restaurant that has a good beer selection, a pretty good wine list and a good cocktail list; so when I come in and I feel like having a beer and Meghan feels like having a cocktail, or we both feel like having a glass of wine, we don’t have to go to a different place. You can really be happy as a group in the same restaurant. And that’s where the evolution of fine dining is going. Fine dining, that whole white glove, sport coat deal, has gone the way of the dinosaur. No one bats an eye showing up in jeans and a t-shirt, because most of the servers are wearing the same and are tatted up. They may look different but these are really people who are at the top of their game as far as food and beverage knowledge is concerned.”
The Shorts think Lansing is a spectacular place for the kind of restaurants big cities are seeing an emergence of. Sam says, “Lansing is aching for this new kind of fine dining restaurant. It has a bunch of people who aren’t the kids at MSU, who are the 220,000 people between the ages of 25 and 65 who live in the Greater Lansing area, who are spending $75 million a year eating outside of the house.”
It has been an adjustment for these foodies, moving to Lansing, but they are excited about the snowball effect that’s taking place in areas of the city like Old Town. “Once you get some restaurants and other attractions in Old Town, you’ll see shops staying open later to accommodate shoppers who have met up after work for a bite to eat or to grab a drink.”
The longer the Shorts live here, the more they fall in love with it and see themselves staying for a while, which is saying a lot for this couple bitten with the wanderlust bug. “Lansing is this perfect small city, big town,” Sam says. “The feeling is pervasive, and it’s a nice thing.” They’d like to set down roots where they can have some sort of real community involvement, and they definitely have that feeling about Lansing. “I really like the community aspect of the area; we’ve met so many great people who are family oriented, wonderful neighbors, and who are so accessible in a centrally located city,” Meghan says.
They’d encourage other young families to consider the area and try it out. “We love the diversity – the different ages of people and the varying degrees of culture available to us here. We’ve found people our age with kids, but also have learned that even the old people here are cool,” Sam and Meghan agree over laughter. They love the fact that the elementary school Jack would go to is right down the street and that there are safe and accessible bike paths for him to ride on. They love the number of city festivals that allow them to go meet up with friends and become acquainted with all sorts of new personalities. Sam says, “You really feel like you’re part of a community, and it’s a community we want to be a part of.”
Veronica Gracia-Wing is a freelance writer for Capital Gains.
is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.
Sam, Meghan and Jack Short in their East Lansing home
Photos © Dave Trumpie