A lot happened over the last year. A lot of great, exciting things. Today marks one year from the day that I moved into my new home, the city of Detroit.
I started out in a 270 sq/ft studio apartment in a very eccentric building downtown called The Leland. I was severely overweight. I had no job and I was struggling to get by on unemployment. I did what I had to do to hustle and get by, while I volunteered my time trying to help a start-up get off the ground. My opportunities started to wear thin, and things were looking really grim. My car died and I had to rely only on my bike and our antiquated public transit system to get around. Then, I realized that my unemployment benefits were coming to an end.
For most of the time that I have lived here in Detroit, I have not had a car. This seems to blow a lot of people’s minds who see this city as being the antithesis to the car-less lifestyle. After all, we are the Motor City, home of the Ford Model T and the Chevy Camaro. Modern Detroit gave life to the American Dream, a place where two and a half kids, a white picket fence, and a car in every garage are practically required for social acceptance.
Things changed a lot when I first moved here. During the first couple of months I started walking around Downtown, getting to know the lay of the land. Luckily we had a very mild winter, with very little snow. Most of the time a winter coat, hat, gloves and some insulated hiking boots were plenty enough protection to battle the elements. At some point I realized that I could get around a lot better if I had a bike, so I picked up my bike that had been stored at my parents’ house for nearly 15 years, fixed it up and started venturing further out.
A lot has happened since I moved to Detroit. I recently moved from the Leland to Corktown, and have taken on a new venture, but let’s rewind back to September, just before I took the leap and moved into the city.
I was at TEDxDetroit, and I was very moved by a presentation made by Brian Mulloy, about the founding of Detroit and the role Chief Pontiac played in Detroit’s history. I learned that the French created Detroit to be a Utopian society, where the French and native Americans would live together and learn from each other, in peace and harmony, and with mutual respect. It is an amazing story, and I met him after the event at the networking afterglow. Continue reading
The Leland Lobby
I have now been living in the city of Detroit for a bit more than three months. I can say that it has been everything I hoped for and more. Some of it has been a struggle, but there’s nothing about this city that doesn’t keep me going every day. A lot is changing, and I’m starting to feel like a real Detroiter. Just knowing what that means is satisfying enough for me.
The building I live at, The Leland, is a constant source of entertainment for me. When I signed my lease (while sitting at the bar, mind you), the bartender was arguing with a hooker about moving her furniture up the wrong entrance. The hooker thought she was being profiled for the way she dressed, but the bartender eventually convinced her that the rules were the same for everyone. Did I mention that I pay my rent at the bar? With my debit card!
My road to Detroit was not paved in gold, with dancing fairies and singing elves leading the way. I decided to move to Detroit back in April of this year, and it has been a struggle for me to find the right home, get approved for it and come up with the money. There have been many setbacks along the way, so to say to you now that I will be a resident of the city of Detroit on Tuesday, October 11, 2011, is as great an honor as it is a relief.
I grew up in the small town of Lake Orion, “Where Living is a Vacation!” It is located on the north end of Oakland County. There was a time when life in Lake Orion was a vacation (there was also a time when they pronounced Orion correctly) as its lakes, rivers and forests served as the perfect setting for a resort town. Not only did the wealthiest people from Detroit have property here, but people from as far south as Florida would come here in the summer to escape the intense heat, and probably the alligators too. There was an amusement park with a wooden water slide, and it was a very happening place for families to visit during the summer.