Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Walk-In Emergencies Welcome


Cass Corridor in December

When I moved from Texas to Detroit eight years ago, my friend Angela drove a huge U-Haul full of all my stuff and my car attached. She drove twenty hours of a twenty-two hour trip given my fear of driving anything much less a U-Haul while I sat in the passenger's seat, trying to imagine what it would be like to live somewhere I had never even seen, a real city. I moved into an upper flat in a beautiful house on Courville (the East Side), the kind with moldings out of a Woody Allen movie. As we drove past the mosque on the corner (one of the landmarks I was told to look for), I noticed a man urinating on a front lawn and Angela said, We can go back, but I took it as the most excellent omen and have loved the city ever since. It was raining as we moved my stuff, a kind of dull grey mist that made everything look eerie and wonderful, and I stood there looking at the sky until the landlords urged us to hurry up because everything would be stolen out of the U-Haul by night if we left it. As Angela and I drove around the next day, I noticed two things -- bullet-proof windows at the KFC drive-through window and a sign that said Walk-In Emergencies Welcome. They had my number -- I was a walking emergency all the time. It didn't take me long to fall in love with the city, much to the surprise of my new local friends -- You like it here? What can I say? When I had a flat tire that winter, the guy who helped me changed it in the snow said, Detroit ain't no joke. These roads will kill you, looking down at my sad Polynesian Metallic Green Geo Storm. The car lasted a lot longer than anyone thought it would (even with a donut tire for nine months) and so have I.

Michelle's Spell of the Day

Walk-In Emergencies Welcome

Scotch straight out of the bottle (preferably a lovely single malt like Dalwhinnie or Glenlivet -- although walking around in the snow drinking J&B will also work just fine -- the weather is imperative here -- Scotch is a northern drink and it's best to drink it in winter when the daylight lasts about an hour or so)


Benedictions and Maledictions

First appeared in Bryant Literary Review

Detroit
I did not know any better except to love
it, the bluish glow of televisions at night,
snow that fell like promises only to turn
dirty and gray. The downstairs landlords
put up a sign in the backyard saying, This
is paradise
and watched as our next-door
neighbor almost strangled his daughter, saying,
Bitch, this is your last chance. Sometimes
I thought about where else I had been, but
not often. The streets in the city were
complicated, changing names midway, leaving
you wondering what miracle might happen next.

3 comments:

Anita said...

You are such a pretty and free spirited woman, michelle. Hope to see you again soon. Don't ever forget: all the young girls love alice. And all the men beware.

Cindy said...

Men are stupid to think they're something special. Who needs them?
Ha! Good riddance to them all.

Paul said...

Check out the Old Miami bar in the Cass Coridor if you haven't already -- replete with Vietnam and Iraq war vets and everything. You're Catholic, aren't you? I hope so. I'd rest earier at night.