When I was a freshman in college, I received a letter from the University, advising me who my roommate was going to be. Granted, I had met her previously at a “Let’s Get all The Minorities Together Party” that winter, but it gave me a bit more insight into her life. All freshmen received a letter that told you your roommate’s name, hometown, address, phone number, and email if you wanted to reach out and get further acquainted. My roomie was a cool girl from the East Coast, who had crazy hair, and a penchant for naps after breakfast (I found that out later, and that’s why we’re best friends to this day). I shared her information with my family, and they seemed excited for me to start a bond with my new friend. My future roommate and BFF’s family reaction? Not quite the same.
I shouldn’t say her whole family; it was really just her brother (who I consider family now). When she opened her letter, she was given my name and address. Brother goes, “She’s from Detroit? You better lock up your valuables.” So apparently, I was a thief because I came from the Motor City. I never stole a thing from her. I did hide a bowl once that I microwaved, but caved in after 3 days after initially blaming it on a football player. Years later, we all laugh about it, but it was just one of many personal jabs, fun pokes, and looks of pity when discussion of my hometown surfaces.
There has been countless times where I have told friends I’m going on vacation and it goes a little something this:
Nice Friend: “You’re going on vacation? How exciting! Where ya headed?”
Formerly Nice Friend Turned Jerk: “WHY”
The question of “why” is usually accompanied by a face covered in what can only be described as a combination of disgust, confusion, and sheer terror. Even when I try to explain that Detroit is my hometown, many still can’t understand why I would want to return. From the outside looking in, Detroit appears to be this vast wasteland, covered in dirt, bullets, and sadness. I am constantly reminded why Detroit is so terrible, that I should be a reals estate mogul since I can buy houses for a $1, and warned that I should never move back. I also am asked if I’ve ever heard of “It’s So Cold In the D”, which apparently has taken over as the Detroit anthem, crushing Sammy Davis Jr.’s “Hello Detroit” with its notoriety and ratchedness.
Many people around this great country of ours love to represent their city of origin, oftentimes with great fervor. Standouts include people from New York, who yell to the highest heaven what borough/island they come from, with maybe the exception of Manhattan ( it’s just sounds weird, but not as weird as the guy last night who screamed out “South Beach!” at a concert I went to, like he was from Bed-Stuy). Another city is my hometown of Detroit. You go anywhere, and if there is a person from Detroit there, they will most certainly let you know. Whether it is from the Tigers hat they wear, or if someone mentions that they drive a car, you will find out that this person is from Motown.
I will never say that growing up in Detroit is like living in the wonderful land of Oz. Maybe more like Oz the HBO series, but even still, it’s not a war zone. I grew up in one of the worst parts of the area called Highland Park, where I lived on a block that was home to 2 separate halfway houses, which I found out later were not just “weird places like the YMCA”. When I was younger, I didn’t know that these men were convicted criminals who did who knows what. I just knew them as Charlie, Freddy Krueger, and the guy who tried to hump a dog on the front lawn. Yes, drug dealers and ladies of the night ran rampant, but my family did the best they could to shield me from this and allow me to grow up with an awesome childhood, despite my surroundings. Yes my city has been devastated by the recent downturn of the economy, but it’s my hometown and I represent it with great pride. So cut me and my city some slack. Stop asking me if I know Big Meech ( I don’t), and stop feeling sorry for me when I tell you I’m from 6 Mile. You don’t have to tell me about the recent article you read about “The 32 Most ‘Dangerous’ Place in the World that Aren’t Really Dangerous” which tells you that now is the best time to visit Detroit. I already know that.
***Allow me to leave you a few reasons why Detroit is awesome and why you should come visit ( you can stay with my granny. And she lives on 14 Mile, if you want to feel better):***
· Coney Dogs ( yeah you can get a hot dog elsewhere, but you haven’t had once until you’ve been to Lafayette downtown)
· Pop ( we have the best brands, including Vernors, and Faygo, which boasts the delicious flavor known as RED)
· The Tunnel Under The Detroit River ( it’ll be really cool to say you crossed the border and drove under a river on the same day)
· Manners (it is a well-documented fact that people from the Midwest have the nicest manners of all the good ‘ol USA. This rings true in Detroit. We also use our turn signals)