Culture / Detroit

Detroit normal and other impossible things


Detroit, one month later. When I first returned from my European adventure, I was irritable. Then mopey. Frustration was followed by resignation. Finally, acceptance. The five stages of re-acculturation. Image

It was as if Detroit had saved up all its goodies for my return. Bankrupt city. DIA treasures potentially saleable. Teenager in my neighborhood violently raped. Rapist violently beaten. A car firebombed down the street. The house next to the gas station down the road burned to charcoal perfection. New puppy runs away in the worst possible place to be a runaway pooch in Detroit and is found later, wounded. Takes almost month to recover. Mayoral race that includes two write-in candidates with similar names (Duggan and Dugeon) in a city that averages a fourth grade reading level. City pensioners facing penury. All this is fairly average Detroit fare, I should add.


It just feels worse when you’ve distanced yourself from it and come back. The 90-mile round trip to early morning yoga feels longer and the gap between Detroit and Ann Arbor is more an impudent maw of derision than just a road. The jaws I am caught between. The life I want to live and the life that I am living. I suspect I am not unique in this dilemma.


My values and ideologies keep me where I am, but my head and senses tell me that I’ve turned closer to the things that make me less sure, less confident. I’m not a Detroit hater. It’s just, I’m not a Detroit lover. In this city, it seems you have to be one or the other. The in-betweenness doesn’t cut it. You’re all in or all out. I’m mostly in, just re-adjusting myself.


“We are all one question, and the best answer seems to be love—a connection between things.” — Mary Ruefle, “Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World,” Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures


3 thoughts on “Detroit normal and other impossible things

  1. You don’t have to be in our be out. I’ve been here for 14 years and the city and I still have “a complicated relationship.” Also, what I thought was the craziest culture shock a person could encounter when I went to Africa, returning to Michigan via NYC 6 months later was literally traumatic. Don’t rush it! Continue to relect and hang in there 🙂

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