I recently relocated to the Detroit area, and one thing is truly certain… I get lost a lot.
Sometimes one or two wrong turns lands me somewhere entirely new, and at first I found this phenomenon entirely frustrating. After the first few predicaments, I came to realize this was one of the best parts of living in a new place. The unexpected discoveries I have made along my meanderings are the ones that have defined the better part of establishing myself in this very new area.
I grew up in Northern Michigan, and one of my favorite things about that “rustic” lifestyle is getting lost on familiar winding dirt roads deep in sunlit forests. In the first couple of weeks living in the Metro Detroit area, I was driving… somewhere… Then in the heart of the supposed urban mecca, I was suddenly confused and turned around bumping along a dirt road avoiding potholes filled with mud. After panicking that I was running late to my destination, I rationalized that this was one of those moments I should really revel in before I let the panic be the definition of the trip.
Once I let anxiety subside, I started letting the thrill of getting lost be just that–thrilling.
Perhaps you’re thinking that this does not make sense; who wants to get lost all the time? Well, I will tell you that I’m actually upset I’m getting disoriented less and less now. Had I not made a wrong turn somewhere on my way to Royal Oak, I would have missed out on John K. King’s Used & Rare Books’ sweet younger brother in Ferndale. Although the downtown store is amazing in its sheer size and unique character, the Ferndale store boasts a smaller, more intimate version with an awesome little “store kitty” to boot!
Not too far down the street, I was lucky enough to stumble upon The Rust Belt Market. This little gem had been a whisper on the DIY rumor mill, and I was so excited to see it in real life. I’m not saying I would not have sought it out on purpose, I’m sure I would have eventually. However, getting lost in Ferndale, and then finding this beacon was truly awesome. For those of you that haven’t heard of The Rust Belt Market, it is an handmade, vintage, upcycle, completely, local, art, craft and design fantasy land.
The aforementioned John K. King’s Used & Rare Books (the downtown one, not the sweet little brother), caused me to get lost once again on another adventure. This time, I was heading down Michigan Avenue in the Dearborn area when I saw a Batman symbol shining out at the street. Being the dork I am, the car was immediately turned around so I could investigate, and what I found was amazing! Green Brain Comics is stocked to the brim with all kinds of comics and graphic novels both mainstream and small press. I was so excited, I’ve planned a trip to go back because I wasn’t fully prepared on the initial visit.
Being from northern Michigan means a lot of things about my adventurous attitude, but one of the doozies on the negative is my complete lack of freeway driving experience. At times, this means a lot of anxiety-ridden drives where navigating both vehicles and directions means one has to suffer. However, this “issue” has landed me in a couple really neat towns.
Franklin is an interesting little village with a vibrant history that they have seemingly held onto tightly. I was instantly nostalgic for a time I had never even experienced while passing through. After I figured out where I was and made my way home, I did a little research, and “The Town That Time Forgot” celebrates history and charm with excited commitment offering tours and events all year.
On yet another trip I almost ended up in another country entirely. Well, first I almost had no choice, but to enter Canada when I made a quick change of direction and ended up in Mexico, a.k.a. Mexicantown. I’ve heard rumors of this fascinating glimpse of Mexican culture, but it really is comparable to my trips to the country itself. It was like taking that turn transformed the entire ambiance of Detroit. I proceeded to eat at Xochimilco Restaurant and even my taste-buds were brought back to vacations I’ve taken in the past.
The takeaway? I think the cliche, “Not all who wander are lost,” would do nicely here. I realized that I was living in a new place, and the only way I was going to discover anything was if I lost my fear of being off-course and took comfort in my wandering state. The Detroit area has proven to be nothing less than awesome in each misadventure.