I see you.
Sometimes, that's all you need to know-- that someone sees you.
It's no secret that I love a good loser. Give me the forgotten, the lesser, the trash, the second best. Give me the underdog and the loser. Give me the outcasts, make me work hard to find the silver lining, the beauty in the ugly.
Those are my kinda people. Those are my kinda cities.
I come from a loser city myself. Baltimore has lost, time and time again.
I feel a sort of allegiance to the losers. I'm from a loser city, so I have a duty to visit other outcasts, to let them know someone isn't scared of them, someone sees their beauty, someone cares that they are there.
So, I see you, Detroit. I see your abandoned buildings. I see your closed up restaurants. I see the ghost town you've become.
When I told people I was visiting you, they scoffed. They looked at me, furrowed brow in confusion and asked, "Why?"
I didn't have an answer besides we wanted to see your baseball stadium.
But if I could go back, I would answer that question much differently.
I would tell them we're visiting you because you are beautiful. Your abandoned mansions, the history left right in the past, the ivy crawling the buildings, the skyline in the distance, the blue of the Detroit River after it rains. We're visiting Detroit for its beauty.
I would tell them we're visiting you because of you need recognition. Every person we met- the bar tender, the lady at the desk of the hotel, the man making our food at Whole Foods- we ask if they're from here. They beam, glad that we asked. They proudly say, "Born and raised". We asked them if they loved you. All fiercely pledged their love to you. We're visiting Detroit so we can watch faces light up when we ask your people if they love you.
I would tell them because of your people. That's just it. Every person we met was kind, funny, welcoming, warm, outgoing and friendly. They made us feel welcome, safe and cared for. Detroit, there's something about your people that adds to your charm. You should feel proud of your people. We're visiting Detroit to meet its people.
I would tell them we're visiting you because you're nothing to be afraid of. When we told people that we were staying in Detroit, they told us to be careful. The reviews of the hotel online said it was in a "sketchy" neighborhood and that we should watch our cars. I scoffed and said, "I'm from Baltimore". I'm no stranger to my car being broken into, to gun shots in the dark, to helicopters' lights shining in my bedroom at night. But as we pulled into the city, I started to wonder if I had made a mistake. What if I was too cocky? But as I met your people, as I walked the streets, I never once felt unsafe. I never once felt scared. We're visiting Detroit because its not a city that needs to be feared.
I would tell them we're visitng you because someone should. We vowed to eat local, to only buy things from local Detroit shops, to only stay at independent hotels. We paid the parking meters with glee, knowing we were giving money to a city that was trying to rebuild. We met the locals, we drank their beer, ate their food and walked their city. We fell in love immediately. We're visiting Detroit because someone should.
I would tell them we're visitng you for what you were. I saw the history. The gorgeous gothic architecture. The cathedrals. The plaques of history all over the place. We learned about the way things used to be in Detroit. I'm lucky to be married to a history buff that soaks in all the facts and numbers. Don't try to hide it, Detroit. We saw your cobble stones, half hidden under the asphalt that's cracking. We saw the mansions on the west side of town, abandoned now but what did it used to be? We saw it. We're visiting Detroit for what it used to be .
I would tell them we're visitng you for what you're going to be. We see you. We see the revitalization. We see the trendy, hipster neighborhoods popping up all over the place. We see the locals, joyful and hopeful of seeing LIFE in their city again. We see the mansions being restored. We see the neighborhoods turning around. We see the construction. We see it, all. We're visiting Detroit for what it's going to be.