When you live outside of a major city, you often answer the question “where are you from?” with the name of whatever big city is closest to you. For me, I have become used to answering that question with one word, Detroit. Am I really from within the city limits of Detroit? No. Actually, my hometown is 20 minutes north of Downtown Detroit. However, when you name a small suburban city over 4 hours away from where you currently are, no one has any idea what city you are referring to. Mention Detroit, however, and everyone seems to know where that is. However, it seems like people outside of Michigan have gotten the wrong idea about Detroit.
After I left the state of Michigan, I noticed what my husband termed “the Detroit lean”. Simply put, the “Detroit lean” is the shift people get in their body language when you tell them you’re from Detroit. They lean away, get a little tenser, and apparently think you’re out to get them. Being that I no longer live in Michigan, I feel like it’s my job to inform people just how fantastic Detroit really is.
Sure, there are some bad parts of Detroit, just like any major city, but there are so many beautiful parts too. A few weeks ago I was in the heart of Detroit at St. Charles Catholic Church. It’s located in the middle of a side street, surrounded by old brick houses that still show some of the “old days”. While the area is starting to look tattered and torn, the church stands beautifully. I found myself stopped at the stairs looking up at this truly beautiful church. That isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in such a situation in Detroit. If you haven’t done so, I highly recommend exploring all of the old churches in Detroit. They are like little castles, tucked away in a city, begging to be reborn and revitalized.
Then there’s the skyline itself. Whenever I return to my hometown, I come up I-75. I’ve making the drive for almost 4 years but to this day I still find myself a little breathless as I get that first glimpse of the skyline. To see the Ambassador Bridge crossing into another country, the “Ren Cen” towering over everything: it’s pure beauty. Any signs of violence, poverty, etc. are hidden in that moment and our city looks simple perfect.
As I travel the country for the next 16 years, I’m sure I will see the “Detroit lean” many more times. I don’t know that I will ever be able to explain the pure beauty of Detroit to people who haven’t seen it for themselves but, deep down, I know just how truly beautiful Detroit really is. It may have its areas that need work but there is, and always will be, beauty in “the D”. You just need to know where to look.
–Kati Bethuy, Contributing Writer
Kati Bethuy is a Michigan native moving around the world with her husband, an officer in the United States Air Force, and her daughter. She currently resides at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio.