Every so often it hits me like a ton of bricks.
Maybe it’s because I still, mistakenly, call it ‘home’ when I’ve lived in Southern California for 15 years. My children are California natives.
Maybe it’s because my Mom was just here, my brother and father just spent a few weeks there, and my Dad is now here to help out.
Maybe it’s because everyone is talking about the new parody ad featuring Pashon Murry, Detroit Dirt entrepreneur and mistress of awesome.
Maybe it’s because it’s Spring Break time and I can’t help think about how we would escape the cold and drive to my Grandmother’s in Florida, stuffed into the back of a station wagon with my cousins while the weather went from gray muck and sleet to sticky, hot swamp.
Maybe it’s because of March Madness, and my school is playing and we’re all cheering and I’m longing to see that frozen tundra I was forced to walk from Holden Hall to class in East Lansing.
But mostly, it was this photo, part of the website highlighting Murray, that drove me over the edge and pushed me well past the boiling point.
I miss Detroit. I miss metro-Detroit. I miss everything about it and I want to be there to watch it change once again into the amazing city I adore.
I can see the Ambassador Bridge in the background, my gateway to Windsor and Bloody Caesars and shopping and my good Canadian friends.
I can remember those train tracks under the bridge area and how I’d park there, top down on my car, and listen to the Detroit River go by with it’s ‘Frasiers’ (as my brother called them) honking loudly and fishing boats. The stars in the sky, still visible despite light pollution from the factories on the river, and the lack of police- they had better things to do than give a damn about a girl parked in the wrong part of town listening to music by the river under the bridge.
Now that area is part of Detroit renewal. And I long to be more than just an ‘advisory board’ member from afar hoping to help from 3k miles away.
I want to be there, live there, get my hands dirty and say ‘we built that!’
I want to complain about the snow and drive my daughter an hour to horseback riding lessons on I-94. I want to take my son to Eastern Market and show him the locally grown produce and flowers and watch his eyes pop out of his head when he realizes this can happen in a city atmosphere.
I want to take trips ‘up north’ for sledding and fun.
I want family nearby to help when I can’t get out of bed or make dinner or end up in the hospital. And when in that hospital I want to recognize the faces and the friends working to keep me comfortable.
I want my kids to know what it’s like to have roots in Hamtramck – to show them the Catholic Church I grew up in and to have them understand this is their legacy too. They can see the beer tent and enjoy the elephant ears and maybe have some history given when I say ‘and this is where my Aunt gave me this rosary, which I now give to you.’
I want to buy a home in one of the renewal areas and work to build it back up to it’s once mansion like glory.
I want water all around me again, putting out the fires in my heart and mind and keeping me calm. The lake I can see daily out a window or on my drive, the river always there, everything within a walk if needed.
Tis the season for Friday Night fish fries and Saturday morning hangovers. Men leaving to hunt, women laughing at their excuse to go drink in the wood for a day or two.
There is also so much I don’t want, and don’t miss…but I need to be part of this solution in a more tangible way than advising on boards of startups trying to make it in the D. I want so much more.
…but it’s only a dream. My house by the river/lake, my chance to help, my ideas that we’d ever leave California.
Husband’s work is Los Angeles specific. My children are in a wonderful school well suited to our needs and our family, and I can’t imagine something like that exists in the Motor City. And then there is my treatment and my doctor. I’m sure I could find another. But it would be hard. It took me 4-5 doctors to find him. And no, I’m not forgetting the cold and the winters. The gray that sucks the life out of you because you long for the sun and not slush.
I’m also not stupid, I know once the glitter wears off and it’s just life again, I’ll be annoyed we live close to family who probably will just let themselves in the door without knocking. Well, the ones that drive me crazy. The others I will WANT to let themselves in and be grateful they are near would always knock. But then there are the others who will say and do things in front of my children I disapprove of and drive me insane. Giving the kids a glimpse of the reason I left and giving them a reason to leave when old enough.
However if given the chance, if the opportunity were there…I’d lobby to move our little family near where I was born and raised.
In the meantime, I will deal with this gnawing at my stomach that we need the fresh air and cold and water water everywhere. The pit of my stomach churns with the pang of want every time I see Pure Michigan commercials and I dream of a home built from logs, on the banks of one of it’s purely Michigan bodies of water…small town nearby for necessities but mostly just my family and my loves for the sea. I could heal, I could be calm, I could put the pieces back together and figure out where it all went wrong. I could homeschool. Or try. I could show them such beauty in their own backyard. Oh and the garden we’d have! The joy of seeing Spring peak through the snow and actual seasons.
Maybe someday. In the meantime, I will continue to do all I can from afar. Because I care more than I can put into words what happens in metro-Deroit and the city. I care more than I can put into words about every body of water from the U-P on down. I care about Detroit. I care about Michigan. I care about roots.
And it’s never going to go away.