Trigger

Whether it was bad aim, lack of ammunition, or a change of heart, I’ll never know why he didn’t shoot us.  At the end of the day, that part doesn’t matter.

Dressed in blue from his Tigers’ hat to his Nikes, he was meandering sloppily down Adams Street surrounded by friends.  Our Scion drove up behind them and stopped at the red light, just as they entered the crosswalk. They abruptly looked in our direction.

“Get the f*ck out of my D!” one of them shouted.

They appeared to be looking for something to occupy their time.  They were looking to cause some trouble.

“My, God.  Danielle, he’s got a gun,” my husband said.

“I said get the f*ck out of my city!”

The light turned green, and he waited for them to finish crossing before flooring the gas.  He was acting only on instinct.  My heart quickened as the car accelerated, thrusting my shoulders into my seat.  Our small hatchback was approaching them, and we had nowhere to turn.  We were stuck.  Either stay there like sitting ducks, or get past them immediately.

I grabbed my husband’s arm, digging my nails into his bicep.  With my other hand, I fidgeted with the seatbelt.  I twisted the thick gray fabric, wishing it were made of something stronger.  Before my husband pushed my head down below the window, I managed to look the young man straight in his eyes.

His brows were distorted and nostrils flared.  The anguish in his stare made my breath stick to the insides of my throat.  His gun, small and silver, was pointed right at our faces.

Detroit hasn’t been the same since the riots of 1967, and the white flight that followed.  It was much more than a difficult time in Detroit.  It was a time for significant downhill change for the city, filled with violence and civil disobedience.  White residents fled by the thousands to suburbs.  When they left, they took prosperity, and left a lasting footprint of decay that can still be seen today.  There is a racial divide so deep that time hasn’t been able to fully repair it.  Transplants (like myself) don’t get it at first, but the people born and raised there have boiled blood still coursing through their veins.

Can you honestly blame them?

As I looked down the barrel of his gun, I felt strangely numb.  People say your life flashes before your eyes in situations like that, but I felt nothing.  Time stopped, and I sat there, frozen, waiting for him to end our lives with a bullet.

I did nothing wrong, but the frustration in his dilated pupils told me I was good enough to be his scapegoat. I could be the revenge for his city, and for the years of poverty it had endured when people like me (white and blissfully ignorant) abandoned Detroit in its’ darkest hour.  In that millisecond, my future was in his hands.

Only a child, fifteen at most, he was a product of the pain his family, and city, had endured.  It was the change he thought he needed, but in that moment he didn’t pull the trigger.

Photo courtesy of Jordan Wiseman on Stocksnap.io

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Su-Su-Summer Time

Yes!

It’s finally here and I couldn’t be happier: warm weather.  And with warm weather comes summer.  And with summer comes barbeques, short shorts, cold drinks, crystal clear pools, shady umbrellas, bottles upon bottles of sunblock, and laughter.

So.Much.Laughter.

I’ve always enjoyed the sticky days that summer is known for.  Growing up, I’d spend it laying out on my parent’s back deck, with my mom and sister, while listening to Kiss FM on my battery operated boom box.  The scorching deck would blister a bare foot, so we kept flip-flops at the ready; only going barefoot on the fiery wood as we danced our way from the rubbery fold-out chairs to the refreshing pool.  My mom would happily watch my sister and I as we splashed around in the pool, goofing off, making whirlpools, playing Marco-Polo and attempting underwater headstands. She only jumped in occasionally to cool off, and spent most of the day slathering on fresh coats of tanning lotion and relaxing as she glistened in the sun.

I can still smell her Hawaiian Tropic SPF 5, if I close my eyes.

It’s been four summers since she passed away, but I still remember every detail about those days.  She would lay there, smoking her cigarettes and painting her nails a bright shade of red.  She was a bronze goddess, effortlessly gorgeous with long dark hair, a thin curvy waist, and her favorite black bikini.

I wanted to be just like her.

And I tried to be.  I would soak up the sun’s hot rays after drenching my pale body in tanning lotion and saturating my hair with lemon-scented Sun-in.  But instead of being sun-kissed, I ended up with burnt, painful skin and orange hair, year after year.

I didn’t care, because I was happy.

During my twenties I rarely saw water during the summer, but instead I would spend warm days at baseball games with my husband, rooting for the Tigers.  We would sip frosty beers and munch on Hebrew National hotdogs as we baked, shoulder to shoulder, under the rays of the July sun.  The smell of buttery popcorn would fill our noses, making us crave the salty treat.  If the Tigers were away, we would day-drink limey vodka gimlets at outdoor bars with friends.  We’d laugh and talk as jazzy house music filled the air. We had no real responsibilities, no kids and no cares in the world.

Life was good.

Today, again, summers are different. Summer days are now spent chasing little ones at the wading pool with big beach hats and SPF 50. Or at the beach, sweaty and covered in sand. At home, we spend breezy afternoons on the swing, finding shapes in the clouds, coloring with sidewalk chalk on the blacktop, or sharing drippy popsicles that leave our fingers sweet and sticky.  My husband and I spend cool nights on the back deck with glasses of crisp white wine as we watch the fireflies blink, and hear the crickets sing.

These summer days are my favorite, so far.  They make me reflect on where I came from, what I’ve gone through and what kind of woman I have become. They make me appreciate the past, while staying present, and also looking forward to what the future may hold.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go pour myself a glass of Pinot Grigio and listen to the crickets.

Summer is awesome.

Photo courtesy of  Ann Demianenko at Unsplash.

This week I revamped an old piece that you can find here.  Hope you like my changes!

 

Electric Moves.

It was day three of Movement, and everything was upside down.

The crowd around her was a sweaty, bulging mess; moving in rhythm, but somehow each at his own pace.  As the music charged through her soul, the bass vibrated her chest and sent shivers down her tattooed back, racing to reach her toes.  Her short black hair was wet and matted to her forehead as beads of sweat dripped down her cheeks bringing smudgy eyeliner along for the ride.  Her eyes closed tightly, and the music intensified, nearly bringing her to her knees.

In that moment, she was electric.

Photo Courtesy of Resident Advisory

 

Detroit has a Heartbeat.

My home is Virginia, but I spent five years living in Detroit, Michigan and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it once in a while.

Detroit has a heart that pounds through your chest like an old beat-up sledgehammer.  It’s dirty and noisy, but still powerful and captivating.  During my years residing there, I was in love with the energy; it was palpable and irresistible, dragging me toward it like a moth to a flame.

Sometimes as I would drive up 95 North, back to my sunny loft on Adams Avenue, the city’s skyline would seem to unfold before like a children’s pop-up book. First I’d see old Tigers’ stadium and the Michigan Train Station, both eerie skeletons full of deterioration.  Then the skyscrapers would come into view, a mix of ornate pre-war facades and newer structures with the sharp angles made of steel and glass.

I couldn’t help feeling like I belonged there; a misfit amongst other misfits.

The reasons why Detroit scares off most people at first glance are evident as you walk down Woodward Avenue and witness abandoned buildings, littered sidewalks and too many folks left to rot without homes.  This feeling is multiplied outside of downtown, where hundreds, if not thousands, of homes have been torched or vandalized, leaving the streets looking like a war zone.  The vacant-ness feels dangerous and maybe even terrifying.

Yet if you dig deeper and find a moment to enjoy the beauty amongst the chaos, then you see what makes Detroit special.  For instance, try standing in front of The Spirit of Detroit.  You will see the amount of pride Detroiters carry for their city.  It’s tangible, as solid as the Joe Lewis Fist.  Go to DEMF and you will feel it in the air as the music vibrates your soul.  Attend a Tigers’ game and you will hear it at Comerica Park when the crowd goes wild over a home run.  Go to any one of Detroit’s amazing restaurants and you can taste it in the food.  Take one look at the casino lights and you will see it there as bright as day.

The Motor City is alive.

The people there are built from hard work, passion for the arts and a zest to persevere through any circumstance.  They have seen enough turmoil, grief and depression to make them close up shop more than anyone would care to mention, but their tough skin and big hearts have carried them through.  The people of Detroit fight hard and love even harder.

They stay true to their city for a reason.

 

Photo courtesy of Leroy on Stocksnap.io

I am Detroit.

I am passionate;
Full of adventure,
And maybe a little gritty.
I am Detroit.

I am artistic,
With a love for music
And maybe a little strange.
I am Detroit.

I can be tragic,
And although I’m beautiful,
I have imperfections.
I am Detroit.

I am unique.
I think out of the box.
I have a big voice.
I am Detroit.

I am strong.
And though I may stumble,
I will persevere.
I am Detroit.

A little poem for my friends – you Detroiters will appreciate it most, I think.