I moved to Detroit ten years ago today with the help of my dearest Angela who drove the U-Haul filled with all my earthly possessions for almost all the way here (she made me drive for five long hours in which I thought we might die at any moment). Upon entering the city, it was gray and rainy and a man stood on his front yard, urinating in what passes for broad daylight in this gloomy time of year. Nobody could understand why I was going -- my boyfriend had moved here for work, but he wasn't offering any ring for joining him, my family and friends lived in Texas, and I'd been told tales of lawlessness and debauchery about the city proper which thrilled me to no end. I'd never been to Detroit, but Ang had, several times to visit a boyfriend who ended up moving to Texas to be with her. You don't have to stay, Michelle, she said, optimistically hoping I'd change my mind. But I didn't. And she understood given that she was the only person in my life who gave me any help whatsoever with what everyone else thought was a "fucking retarded decision brought about by the devil" (Hank) and other assorted opinions along the same lines, too numerous to list here. We had to stop and refill the U-Haul with gas about a hundred times, and we'd always get some yoodle talking to us, asking us the same question, Why are you going to Detroit? To which Angela, ever the romantic, would answer, For love!
That was the correct answer, of course, but what I didn't count on was falling in love with the city. I watched it out my window every morning and night (what else does an unemployed writer in a city with no friends, a boyfriend at work all day and night, and nothing but time to write do?) and thought about my life. I'd gotten through some hard things, but those things had passed, leaving me in a rare period of rest where I didn't worry so much. Now that I was in what is routinely billed as the most dangerous city in America, I didn't fear for my safety, didn't jump at every noise, didn't worry about harm coming my way. The closest I got was when I went to buy Thomas Merton's Seeds of Holiness and almost got mugged going into my house, but the mugger slipped on ice, leaving me to enter and shut the door on his ass with great rapidity. Thank you bad Detroit weather! Detroit proved to be every bit as difficult to navigate as some had predicted, but I loved it so. Some of the worst things in my life have happened here -- my late twenties and early thirties did not prove to be the smooth ride those first few months were. Don't stay there too long, one of my friends said. You'll start to look like all those Yankees. By which she meant hard and worn, she said. But I've always loved that look. I see my face and see that I indeed do have a different look than when I came. George Orwell says by fifty, we have the face we deserve. But I would put it a little differently -- I have earned my face. It's a bottom-line face, a face that wouldn't launch a rowboat much less a thousand ships, but it's my face, you see, and I love it.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Michigan seems like a dream to me now." Paul Simon
one shot of Hennessey
one shot of Scotch
Pour over a glass of tonic water and ice.
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Wednesday! Thanks to all for the sweet comments and e-mails. I'm behind on my correspondence, but will get caught up very soon. And to the wonderful Totall, the books are in the mail! And sorry about you getting kicked off the Christian board on account of my writing. I'm a deeply religious person, but not a traditional one. No matter what your belief system, we all need to come together in love and respect.