Monday, June 23, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Imagine my surprise when yesterday morning I opened the Sunday edition of The Washington Post to find in the Travel section (above the fold no less) the following headline: In Motown: Stop in the name of Hope. I was so excited to see pictures of my beloved hometown in full color with the letters D.E.T.R.O.I.T in bold print underneath, but seconds later I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. This happens whenever I read stories about Detroit, especially those written by "outsiders" who travel to Motown looking for an example of how "not" to run a city. Although I've been away from Detroit for almost 15 years I do visit as often as I can and I try to keep up with the latest developments. At times I'm beam with pride, like when Detroit hosted the Super Bowl - I hate football, but I watched the entire game fingers crossed that everything would go off without a hitch. I still root for the Pistons and I've been known to talk my fair share of trash to the hockey fans at work. But lately things have been down right depressing in my ol' hometown. The mayor can't keep is thing in his pants (or his thumbs off his Blackberry), city council members fight in televised meetings like little children (or scorned lovers - not to start any rumors, but really now..) crime is up, unemployment is rising and according to the piece in the Post many people consider it the most miserable place in the U.S. It makes me want to cry. Especially since I have so many good memories of the city. Cruising Belle Isle, hanging out in Greektown, late night dinners at the Coney Island - the list goes on. But now when I go back everyone seems frustrated, scared or just defeated. My dream of one day returning home to do for Detroit what Oprah did for Chicago is starting to seem unlikely. I guess it's not all bad though, even the article mentions a few places where people were having fun and at least looked happy - cheap beer and good music has the effect on folk - but I wonder what life will be like for those folks come Monday morning. Many years ago an old (drunk) man at a bar once told me, "I used to give my money to the UNCF, but I don't anymore, cause I don't get no return on my investment, these young people go on off to college and they never come back." I was afraid to tell him that I was one of the young people who left to never return, and truth be told, after that conversation I promised myself that one day I would return to give back to the city that has given me so much. But it's hard to do when, like the old man said, you may never get a return on your investment. God Bless the Motor City!

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