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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Detroit, in all its glory

A home away from home is defined as, “A place where one is as happy, relaxed, or comfortable as in one’s own home.”

My home is in the same city I have lived in since I was born. Aside from that, my home away from home is the city of Detroit. I would rather be in Detroit.

I have a love for that city that is deep and endearing.

And no, I am not just talking about the happy go lucky atmosphere of downtown in the middle of the day during a sporting event or large concert. I am talking about the abandoned buildings, the homeless, the trash on the streets, the spray paint that peppers the buildings. The city has so much to offer. From the advice you will get from someone that calls the streets home to the hope witnessed when an old building slowly but surely gets a face lift to the beauty of a mural covering crumbling walls, Detroit has a lot to offer. From a booming past, the present is beaming with hope. It will be a slow process, but Detroit will be great. Detroit is great. I’ve seen the dark and abandoned streets, I’ve heard the horror stories of murders, robberies. But that seems to be what people want to hear. Detroit is known for the violence, Detroit gets the media attention when it is put on a negative blast.

When I was young, I was sheltered from what lurks just outside of downtown. Now nearly 20 and fascinated with urban cities, art, and people and lifestyles in general, I have ventured down the dingy streets. I have seen the burned out houses, the boards on the windows, the makeshift memorials honoring killed loved ones..It is all sobering in a way, really. This past winter I attended an event downtown where the streets were packed to capacity; I could barely even move. It really got me thinking about how the city is constantly badmouthed, but a family fun event, sport, or concert will draw in the crowds. Even with all the bad that is just blocks from where you’re enjoying yourself, the city still pulls in those from the suburbs. Of course, there are still those people that refuse to get near the city, it happens, but each time I visit Detroit, the population visiting is growing. Just the past two times, I saw many, many people from out of state. It’s comforting that people that probably hear much worse about the city can come and visit. I’m often asked by people who haven’t experienced the city if it really is that bad. Like anything, there is bad. I have learned to accept that, and instead of fear it, embrace what the city has to offer.

Detroit is beautiful. Beauty does not have a single definition, so yes, all of Detroit has beauty in its own way. There is beauty in a bustling downtown, beauty along the river, beauty in the art, beauty in the people in the city. There is so much beauty in the people fighting for their city. Hate is not going to fix Detroit; only love and understanding will save the city of Detroit. I believe that while there is much progress still to be made, steps have been progressive. I am truly hopeful and excited to see what Detroit’s future holds.

Words as weapons

I was bullied in elementary, middle school, and part of high school. They made fun of me because I wore glasses, made fun of my hair, my clothes, my weight, told me I was annoying, even made fun of me because I got good grades.

There was teasing that seemed to pass as “harmless”. There were “friends” that would join in on the hurtful remarks. It was often and it was malicious. There were even instances where I was physically pushed around by the people that saw themselves as better than me; I was pushed off a chair while standing on it, picked up by my shirt and thrown down, etc. I usually had no choice but to laugh along. That, or be made fun of for reacting like a “baby”. I don’t really know which is worse but I do know I had a mix of reactions.

I had few friends in elementary school. The ones I really liked usually moved away. I spent a lot of time alone or trying to make friends with the people that would eventually join in on some sort of teasing. I dealt with it. I begged to change schools or be home schooled so I didn’t have to deal with the same people after elementary. In middle school, I had more friends, but with more friends came more people I really cared about hurting me. I can still remember the exact insults some of my closest friends would use on me. High school, more friends, but then the insults started behind my back. These usually circled around my weight. I can look back and feel proud of the changes in my weight, but at that point I was full of hate for the way I looked and having friends constantly go on about it definitely did not help. Oh, and did I mention they liked to make it known that I annoyed them and was only someone they mildly tolerated?

I was irritating and weird, so I became the deserving target of these actions. Or so I thought.

It took me years, until my junior year of high school, to realize that I deserved better. I was a target for things I could not control. I could control it, though. I could control my friend group. I could try and distance myself from what was ultimately breaking me. Of course, this was far easier said than done. It took a lot of energy out of me initially, but I kept telling myself that I was better than what I was receiving. I deserved to be happy. I couldn’t keep letting myself be dragged into these dark fits of pain over some people that were irrelevant. I had to pull myself out of the notions that I should be gone. Lives would be easier if I wasn’t here. I shouldn’t be around. I forced myself to break free of my taunters.

But it should never be that way.

Someone should never have to go to school and worry about being taunted, pushed around, or insulted. Someone should be able to wear the clothes that their family bought them without being made fun of for years on end. We should be able to feel comfortable in our own skin.

For the most part, I am now happy with who I am but, against all my efforts, the bullying has negatively affected me. I still worry about petty appearance issues. I still feel like people are staring at me if I don’t look my best. If I hear laughing around me, I immediately think it is directed at me. I scold myself if I have sweets, and I feel bad if I talk too much or tell stories to my friends. I know that in the big scheme of things, these issues are minor and don’t mean much, but to my mind, they have felt massive.

In college, I have really found where I belong, but despite all my efforts to let go of the negativity of days passed, it still remains. Almost 20-years-old and I can say that I have learned and grown from my experiences. The greatest thing I have learned is that words hurt. Words hurt like hell. Hands can inflict pain that heals, but words can create cuts that remain open or at least nagging to some extent. Be choosy with your words. Realize that what you say can change a person’s entire perspective for good or for bad. It is so easy to spew hate for laughs, but when the laughing ceases, the aftermath can be devastating. Be nice.

Mentally Destroyed.

“You’re stupid.”

“What about my grades and how well I’m doing in school? What about my articles and my photography?”

“Grades don’t matter.”

I am so sick and tired of being mentally destroyed by my family. These are the people I live with. These are the people that are supposed to love me. I don’t do a thing to them and they still find ways to make me out to be this horrible, idiotic monster. I’m 19 years old and yet I feel like every decision I make is being scrutinized.

I know that no one can judge me and it’s my own life to live but it’s so hard when the people you live with are constantly slaying you with their words over the decisions you make. It is so damn exhausting. No matter what I do, I will always be wrong in their eyes. That’s one thing, it’s a complete other thing to be so harassed for it. I know they don’t agree with all my decisions and I know they don’t completely support me like they claim to but to put me down and try to hurt, that’s when it crosses lines with me. It’s like who I am will never be good enough for them unless I have something to offer them. They criticize me over the friends I have, yet they make me feel as bad, if not worse, than the people I choose to associate with have made me feel.

My friends always leave me and my family always find things wrong with me that they can throw in my face at random intervals. It makes me wonder what is wrong with me and honestly, it makes me wish I was dead. If my own family isn’t going to love and support me, then who is going to? It’s like whenever I am happy or am having a good day, they see an opportunity to swoop in and crumble up my mood and make me feel like I am the scum of the earth. I wish with everything that I had the money to move out because as much as I’ve planned to live at home until I graduate college, I do not think I will mentally be able to handle it.

Regrets? I’ve Got a Few of Those

If I said I didn’t have any regrets in life, I’d be lying to your face. I know, I know, we’re supposed to live without regrets and we’re just supposed to learn from our mistakes and move on from that. I don’t know, I can’t accept my past so how am I supposed to move on from it? I’m a shitty friend, a shitty daughter, just a shitty kid. And I don’t know what I am supposed to do to make that better. Sure I have confidence, but that only goes so far. I absolutely despise myself; my actions, my words, all that’s passed. I hate it all and I have no idea how I am supposed to make peace with that.