Detroit, love and the lack thereof

I fell in love with Detroit when I wandered through a street with my best friend, snapping photos as we sneaked up on Michigan Central Station. I fell in love with Detroit when I drove through the city alone for the first time despite my parents’ expected fears. I fell in love with Detroit when a homeless man stopped me and my friend to tell us about growing up and fulfilling our dreams. I fell in love with Detroit when I locked hands with people I didn’t know in Mexicantown, praying over what may be, for some of them, their only food for the week. I fell in love for Detroit when I biked through the city with thousands of other people, laughing and yelling and taking in a new angle of the neighborhoods.
Detroit may look like it is falling apart, but beyond the side the media always lets us know about, there’s beauty, there’s community, and there is love. Hate in and for Detroit can only survive if we let it. Poverty and death and blight are very real, but so is love. Love is powerful, love is life changing, and love is so desperately needed.
It’s so easy to avoid what needs to be changed, so easy to hate what needs love the most. Detroit, looming under a cloud of stigma, Detroit needs love. And I fall in love with Detroit each time I step foot inside its borders.

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To Be Nothing

Here I sit, sheltered from the elements by a door, watching the sun rising over the worn brick of the building I work in. Snow coats the ground, though it can’t sparkle due to the dead grass it rests upon poking through.
I think I am content, but only content. My mind is racing with the desire to explore, the need to escape for some time. In sync with my mind, my eyes dart back and forth with anticipation for where I could be. Or is that the coffee I just drank? Whatever it may be, I’m here, awake and alive, so I must refrain from complaining. I just feel like there is something missing, the passion and feelings that come with the fiery desire to create and explore.
I am a writer and a photographer. My entire purpose is to create, and to create meaningful content. I cannot lie dormant. I cannot choke out the creative need that fills my soul. I can sit silently, neglecting my camera and notebook, but doing so would only neglect myself. I have tied to drown out what I need, usually unintentionally, and the result was horrible. I will never be truly happy unless I am shooting and writing.
Even days spent in the frigid cold, kneeling on the hard ground and trying to shoot as my fingers and toes lose all feeling, are days far better than the ones I don’t use my camera. Photography is a part of who I am. Writing is a part of who I am. I believe “writer” and “photographer” better describe who I am than any adjective ever could.
What I have found is that what simply makes me happy and complete, defines me. What began as a hobby out of curiosity has exploded into a major and crucial aspect of my life. While cameras and capturing moments intrigued me and  I have been writing for enjoyment for as long back as I can remember, I had no idea these time fillers would one day consume me.
If there’s anything I know about love, it’s that it is a blazing passion deep within our souls that spills out uncontrollably. My feelings toward my camera, toward the words produced by my mind, are nothing short of love. The mere concept of snapping a photo, of writing a sentence, they are such simple actions, yet they encompass my being. To be completely and utterly passionate…That is love. To me, my camera is far more than an object—it is a lifeline, a connector to my grander purpose. Without it, I am nothing.

Progression.

For the longest time, I believed that there was no purpose for life and that being alive was a waste of time. I don’t know if I necessarily wanted to die, but I do know that nothing made me happy and I always found myself focusing on how insignificant I was. I felt like I didn’t matter to any of the people in my life and I instead was a burden in their lives. The thought of their reactions if they found out they would never see or hear from me again taunted me. Maybe it wasn’t death that would do that; I just wanted to leave far away and rebuild myself, with all of the things I considered to be so awful behind me. I felt useless. I felt hated. I thought everyone secretly hated me (plot twist, a lot of them did and their words about me, when they finally came out, didn’t really help the situation). I was completely focused on the negative aspects of my life, fully convinced that’s all it was and all it would ever be. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t happy at times, but I sure didn’t know what happiness actually felt like. Even now, happiness, true happiness, is a weird concept to me that I’m still trying to figure out. Nonetheless, I am moving further and further from that high school kid that was full of hate and sadness. I can see my life in the future. I’m no longer looking down. I have found the power to break away from the negativity and sadness that was holding me hostage. I am searching for positivity in everything and I love putting myself out there, even if it means I may get shot down. I’ve learned to take the punches that life can throw without letting my stance be broken. I want to live, I want to see what tomorrow holds, and I don’t ever want to stop moving forward.

All I Can Offer

I’d like to say I am a happy and positive person. It’s quite a change from the person I was just a few years ago, down and out, looking for the worst in things around me. I was mean. I was rude. I had some vendetta against everyone and everything. I don’t know what was wrong with me, but I seemed to think the world around me was what was wrong.

Now here I am, 20 and a junior in college, a few years away from that person that seemed to hate everything, including life itself. Here I sit, writing this with one of my closest friends beside me, and I think I can say I am happy.

I don’t think I have ever really known happiness before, or at least the true and complete happiness I am feeling now. Of course there are days when I feel low, back at the point where I feel like everything is wrong, but there is something so different here. Now, my biggest goal is to not only continue to better myself, but to improve the lives of those around me.

I have been blessed with an amazing group of people that surround me. From close friends to people I interact with here and there thanks to social media, I have discovered some of the strongest, brightest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. These people are sweet, kind, and caring. These people deserve to be happy. But many of them aren’t, and it breaks my heart.

Knowing what it feels like to feel at the very bottom with no where to go, it truly upsets me seeing these people down at that point. I feel this need, this force telling me that I need to change lives. Even if I only put a smile on the face of one person for a moment, I think that is an accomplishment toward making a difference. Sometimes I feel as though I will come off as weird or creepy for trying to reach out for people, especially those I do not know well, but at the end of the day, I have decided that who I am and what I wish to do is important. If I feel like someone needs something, I am going to give what I can to them, putting aside the fact that they may be confused as to what my motives are.

My motives are to make and see people happy. My desire is to make friends and help those friends grow like my friends continually help me grow. My purpose is to change the world, even if that means only changing the lives of the people I have been lucky enough to cross paths with. If I am not helping people, I do not see any other reason for my existence.