They say you’re not a real New Yorker until you’ve cried in public.
My submission to The Moth Ann Arbor Story SLAM topic: “Home” Video available here.
I grew up in the small town of Chelsea, Michigan. And when I went to college I attended The University of Michigan, only 15 miles away. What this means is that, for the first couple decades of my life, my world was rather narrow, geographically speaking.
But while I was I college, I met my future husband and he changed all that. Together we have traveled to 5 continents, and over a dozen countries, we have lived in Australia, South Africa, and France. My whole world expanded. Continue reading “Coming Home”
When I first moved to New York City, I lived smack-dab in the center of midtown, under the shadow of the Empire State Building. I spent my days searching for a job and exploring my new city. One warm fall day, I dressed in a cute flowy skirt and went for a walk down Broadway. It felt very iconic, strolling down the avenue, passing shops and restaurants, seeing fashionable business-men and women. I boldly made eye contact with good-looking men as they walked by. Here in New York City of all places, these mysterious men regarded me with interest. I felt powerful, beautiful, and strong. How wonderful to be considered attractive by a stranger! Continue reading “Trapped”
When you move to a large city like New York, you join millions of others who make it their home. Whether you know it or not, you are affirming their choice to live there and they are validating you right back. Your collective presence is evidence that you’ve selected a desirable location, and that means something. Continue reading “Defiance”
I grew up in a sweet, serene, safe community: a bastion of purity in small-town Michigan. We had no world-class issues. The police blotter in the local paper was comedically innocent: “raccoon topples garbage can,” “local man double-parks van.” But not too far away, trouble loomed large. Detroit, with its towering tombs was a shame to our state, replete with evidence of poverty, racial conflict, failure. We could not be proud of it so we pretended it did not exist. We could not fix it and so we ignored it.
But it turns out, problems do not solve themselves. Untended, a cancer grows, and a city cannot be surgically removed. Most with the option to do so have retreated and put up a nice tall fence.They take comfort in a combined dosage of nostalgia and finger-pointing- “there’s nothing we could do.” Yet there is a growing coalition of loyalists and adventurers with the temerity to return to that place we have long since disowned. Our denial can only continue for so long.
Not unlike my home state, I have a parts of myself I would rather not face. A rough, unpolished side that, for years, I tried to hide, wish away, bury. The greater heights I reached in my career, in my personal life, the harder it became to face the grit below. But that is part of me too goddammit, and it remains.
With these thoughts in mind, I have taken my imperfect self to this imperfect place, the city of Detroit. I will face and embrace those unpolished edges which I tried so valiantly, so vainly to avoid. New York is a skyscraper, unwilling to face it’s flaws because they seem so far away from such haughty heights. New York is denial. Detroit is a smokestack, honest and brash in the face of faults so evident no one can pretend they don’t exist. Detroit is acceptance.
Detroit and I, we are flawed but full of potential. I cannot take back those years of neglect, but I can try now to make amends. I will shed light on those dark corners, long ago left behind, discovering the truth they’ve waited so long to share.