Saturday, July 26, 2008

OK, I'm back.

Well, I think I'm back.

In stark contrast to the wonderful wonder of last summer with its Woodbridge porch-sitting and bounty of friend-based good times, this summer has turned out to be a little, well, less wonderful.

It's a convergence of things. It started with that Michigan Supreme Court decision in May.

Then came Kwame. Certainly the debacle at city hall is not helping, although I try to remind myself that everything was just as fucked up last summer and I was fine.

There was also this building frustration with all these organizations thinking that branding is the answer to Detroit's problems (see link above). When I think of the money spent on marketing and branding efforts the only conclusion I can come to is that it's a way to prop up the "creative economy" that exists here already. It all seems like a bunch of fluff that won't do anything to solve the concrete issues that actually deter the creative class from landing - or staying - in Detroit.

But without a doubt the biggest thing was the fact that my three oldest and closest friends remaining in Michigan all moved away between April and June.

I wrote a bit about my personal brain drain last year, when six friends who'd moved away came back to visit the two of us from our old core gay group who remained. Well, in April the other one moved, to Gay Zion, San Francisco.

Then another friend decided to spend the summer in SF, before returning to teaching for the school year and then moving on to teach internationally. And then the one friend I just never thought would leave got a job in Chicago. And just like that, almost all that remained of my life from before my move to Detroit disappeared.

This isn't intended as an indictment of my newer friends, because I really adore them. But there is some security in having friends nearby who have been through your ups and downs and really understand you, and the loss of that impacted me dramatically.

Isn't one of the perceived disadvantages of relocating at an advanced age such as mine the fact that you have to uproot your life and start over with new friends? That seems to backfire around here, when by virtue of staying put you are continually starting over.

All this had me on edge, and then my mom forwarded some stupid Republican email that was not only sensationalist in its condemnation of Democrats as socialists but, it turns out, was also completely made up (as so many of them seem to turn out. Huh.) In my delicate emotional state I was forced to confront my mother about the homophobia of the Republican party and learned, to my dismay, that after being out of the closet twenty years I have to educate my mom about why a vote for the Republican party is a vote against gay people.

This is when I had to take a break. I was getting bummed whenever I heard of someone cool leaving the state, even if I barely knew them (and is it just me or is this happening a lot?). I was going from zero to rage over stupid slights (like the woman at the Chicago Skyway tollbooth insisting she had to give me $3 in quarters as my change, even though she had a pile of singles in front of her), and when I stopped to figure out where the rage originated - which turned out to be this kind of overwhelming feeling of isolation - I'd just get depressed. So I did what any normal person would do: I holed up and basked in nostalgia and disco. I spent an inordinant amount of time checking the Fabulon blog. I started re-reading The Warhol Diaries.


Self-portrait of me in June. Flawless, but tragic.

At some point here I randomly met this guy who moved from the West Coast with his partner to live in one of the Mies courtyard houses in Lafayette Park. I asked him what they've done so far in Detroit, what they think of this or that, and he responded that while they are still exploring, they basically just do their own home-based thing.

Something about that made me realize that taking a little break from trying too hard would be a good idea. Maybe focus on just having a nice time instead of always trying to effect change in a community that perhaps is not particularly interested in it. In other words, it's not you, it's me. The real issue is managing my expectations. So I've pulled back a little, reprioritized, made some changes, and I hope I'm pretty much back on track.

Everyone I know here has times when the bad things just get the best of them, and we all tend to pull out of our slumps. I still really love a lot of my life here - I love where I live, I love my job, I love the people I meet, I love the energy ... but this social component, that's got me stumped. For now.

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1 comment:

ML said...

Wow! I've been feeling exactly the same way this summer. Thanks for putting it into words.

I'm a 42 year old resident of Ferndale and a longtime Detroit booster, but I've been overwhelmed by the negativity lately. For the first time, I've begun to question my future here. Thanks for putting it into perspective.

Don't give up. We need voices like yours.

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