Now and again, I feel like Anders, the main character in Charles Baxter's wonderful short story The Disappeared. When I am truly feeling sorry for myself, I think of this description of poor Anders, a Swedish businessman trying to find his way in all ways, but unfortunately doing so in downtown Detroit:
"Anders noticed broken beer bottles, sharp brown glass, on sidewalks and vacant lots, and the glass, in the sun, seemed perversely beautiful. Men were sleeping on sidewalks and in front stairwells; one man, wearing a hat, urinated against the corner of a burned-out building. He saw other men—there were very few women out here in the light of day—in groups gazing at him with cold slow deadly expressions. In his state of mind, he understood it all; he identified with it. All of it, the ruins and the remnants, made perfect sense."
I think of Anders and then I put on my big girl panties and feel more like other cities, probably Waimea on the Big Island or Vail, perhaps. Hot or cold, I'm at peace.
But sometimes life is like Detroit, a place once large, now growing smaller and more dangerous. Sometimes life isn't all about growth or boom or major housing upswings. It's about white, black, brown flight, squatting, and economic disaster.
I think that it's important to understand geography and know when we are flying over Detroit or when we land there. We need not to be surprised like Anders was. We need to carry to correct essentials, such as mace, an extra credit card, and some boxing gloves. When we find ourselves walking through the streets of Vail like superstars, we need to bring our camera so that we can remember where we were during more Detroit like moments. When we are in the waves of the Kailua coast, keep it in mind. Close your eyes, remember the waves,the sun, the surf. Detroit looms, though if we are prepared, there is nothing to worry about. We have out Detroit safety kit. We are ready for the city and anything.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org