America is obsessed with love-hate relationships on television. We hate to admit it, but it’s true.
Directors, producers and screenwriters have made millions off characters who just can’t stay away from the men who hurt them over and over. The Meredith Greys. The Blair Waldorfs. The Carrie Bradshaws. They open their hearts an infinitesimal amount of times, just enough for it to drain them dry when it ends – again. Yet somehow, they always come running back into the arms of their ex-lover, their “person,” and everything turns out alright.
Except for poor Meredith. Yikes. #spoileralert.
As deplorable as it is that I’m making this comparison (I can feel my former journalism professors cringing at the thought), these pseudo-neurotic love stories share a striking resemblance to my relationship with Detroit.
Metro Detroit was my first love, really. In childhood I knew nothing outside a few suburbs, the city itself and the pleasant silence amongst nature that is “Up North.” As a teenager who’d seen nothing of the world, I couldn’t be more eager to leave for college. But despite some major worldwide flirtations during my time at Michigan State, Metro Detroit is my home once again. Detroit has always been my city, and my city it shall stay.
As with any relationship, Detroit has its selling points. Gorgeous, age-old real estate. Cheap, delicious food – and a growing restaurant buzz, according to the Washington Post. More cultural diversity than a UN commission. But every once in awhile, the abysmal parking and obxiously ill-informed suburbanites seem like deal breakers.
There are also memories of other cities – past exes, if you will – that manifest in my dreams to wake me from a dead sleep. I see the beautiful skyline of Dubai, so close to the edge of the turquoise water I feel like I’ll fall off the edge of the earth. I crave the chaos of New Delhi, temple after gorgeous temple gleaming in the pre-monsoon sun.
And once in a blue moon, I’d give nothing more than to drink cheap margaritas on the rooftop of my favorite Mexican restaurant in East Lansing, or tailgate until I drop while MSU finds a new team to pummel.
But alas, the UAE is deliriously pricy – even a Chicken McNugget meal from the McDonald’s in Dubai costs $10. My acid reflux-ridden stomach could barely handle countless days of heavy curries and tongue-scorching Indochinese cuisine during my time in India. My apartments in East Lansing were quite expensive for a broke college student, and I definitely don’t miss the obnoxious neighbors attempting to make mincemeat of my ceiling at 4 a.m.
Although I’d been so excited to leave the tri-county area back in 2011, it took me less than two months to realize I missed the vastness of my former city more than ever.
When these moments of frustration or wanderlust get to me, the positives deep down outweigh them every time. I can’t imagine my life without the satisfaction I get from a little road rage while speeding down I-94 at 8 a.m. I look forward to the tree lighting and ice skating at Campus Martius over the holidays like a child counting down the minutes to watch the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” on TV.
I relish the old family videos of my Dad’s childhood – birthday parties at their house in Little Malta, Corktown, my grandfather spreading a blanket on the beach on Belle Isle. I giggle at my mother’s stories, like that one time she went to Catholic school with the children of well-known mobsters (St. Ambrose made her spunky.)
More than that, what I love about Detroit is its ultimate refusal to be defeated. We’ve had our fair share of failure, and mainstream media won’t let us forget it. But it’s just like Maya Angelou said – every time the negativity gets Detroiters down, still, like dust, they rise. I aim to be a part of that ascension, as a social worker and a game changer alike.
Us Metro Detroiters refuse to be knocked down, but not for the sake of our own dignity. Detroit’s current and former glory might not mirror one another, but the mere image of what the city is and could be keeps us going.
It keeps the fight in us. It makes us scrappy, rough around the edges.
But within the tough cell walls of our ego, there exists a powerhouse mitochondria that refuses to be tamed, a mighty generator that won’t allow Detroit pride to die.
I’ve dated a decent amount of cities, even fallen in love once or twice. I’d be a liar if I said the thought of going back to New Delhi didn’t make me swoon. My future, hopefully, will consist of plenty of world travel.
Yet despite all of it, I remain committed and hopelessly in love with Detroit. And I won’t let any job or circumstance come between me and my boyfriend.