There are certain things about life that are just fact. My fact is that I was not meant to live my life in Michigan. I knew this from a very early age, as far back as I can remember actually. I can remember sitting in my room at the age of maybe 12 and planning a move to Tennessee. I’ve also planned moves to Las Vegas and Florida. I did eventually move in 2000 to Arizona, for a month and a half. Though short-lived, that first move was a success, it proved I could do it. In 2002 I moved again, this time to Alabama. From the start I knew Alabama was not permanent. We moved there because the United States Air Force told us we were. What I didn’t realize was how temporary my status as an Air Force wife was going to be. Nine months later, I moved back to Michigan, again. From the moment I crossed the Michigan state line every move and every decision I made focused on one thing, escaping Michigan for good. Escaping the cold and the snow. Escaping the grey skies and seemingly constant rain. Escaping the misery of living in a city I hated. In 2009 I finally moved again, back to Arizona.
Outside of my family, friends, and yes, even my job, I honestly didn’t think there would be anything about Michigan I would miss. I was wrong. I miss the food. For all that Arizona has to offer, food is not one of them. Coney Island’s don’t exist here.
Chinese food is not the same. Mexican is obviously authentic, but not to my liking. I can’t find an Italian restaurant to match that of my favorite hole in the wall back home. Despite trying countless times, I cannot find proper middle eastern food.
Yes, I say this with an air of arrogance, however, I feel I have that right. The town I’m from has the largest arab population in the United States. I also miss Jets Pizza, Faygo Rock N Rye soda, and Better Made BBQ Potato Chips, all Detroit brand products.
I miss Halloween. Yes, Arizona has Halloween. Arizona has Halloween in 85 degree heat. I once thought that would be a plus. Not having to choose a costume based on how much snow is on the ground or the knowledge that it IS going to rain.
Somehow it just doesn’t feel like Halloween here. The crisp smell of fall, the leaves on the ground, picking your pumpkin out of the pumpkin patch then going for hot cider or cocoa to warm up with a cider donut fresh from the oven. Devil’s Night does not exist here.
I miss leaves, real leaves. Leaves that change color and fall to the ground in the fall. I took the changing of the colors for granted, until I didn’t have it any longer. I miss the smell and the crunch of the leaves on the ground. I don’t miss raking the leaves!
I even miss the rain. Not the endless days on end rain, I miss thunderstorms, a good proper thunderstorm. We can literally go for months without rain here in the desert. Even during the monsoon season rain is not the same. Twenty seconds of sprinkles on the windshield is not rain. I miss falling asleep to the sound of thunder, the flash of lightning through the window and the sound of the rain hammering the roof.
I’ve been back home twice since the move. The first trip was consumed with seeing as many people as I could fit in in the time I was there. The second trip was different. The husband who had never been to Detroit came on that second trip. We were determined to show him the best and the worst that Detroit had to offer.
I have never understood the pride that Detroiters have for our dying city.
Seeing my city through the husband’s eyes was eye-opening for me.
We went to the best parts of town.
We went to the worst parts of town.
Often the two are not more than a block from each other.
We spent time downtown
and at the riverfront.
We saw cathedrals.
We attempted to explore the old train station, but the Detroit Police convinced us that was not our wisest decision.
We drove through Corktown, our Irish community.
We walked through the Heidelberg Project.
Many of the places we went that day I had never been. I was most certainly a suburb snob and as a rule of thumb I avoided the city of Detroit.
Sometimes you have to go away to learn to appreciate what you had.
I now tell people with pride that I am from Detroit!
Photo credit: Coldshot Photography