WHERE AND HOW LIFE SHAPES YOU

ON BEING FROM DETROIT

I proudly wear my Red Wings jersey.

Federov (#91) – who helped the Wings go to the Stanley Cup after a drought is proudly displayed on the back.  I chose this jersey for a reason.

It was a gift.

It’s about tenacity.

One of my better traits.

I remember watching him play an early game with the Wings against the Colorado Avalanche.  As a “Welcome” the opposing players proceeded to beat the crap out of the guy.

Was it Welcome to the US?  Welcome to the Big Time?  Who the hell knows…

It was one of the few times I covered my mouth in horror.

They truly beat the hell out of the kid.

To my amazement, he got up, shook himself off, and got back on the ice.

To my Red Wings’ sense of loyalty I took a bit of satisfaction in payback as they went into the goal area and woke Patrick Roy up.  Hey – to the nuns’ eternal chagrin – I played hockey.  I get it.

You Mean the Burbs Right?

Um…no.

Not long before the pandemic locked us out of the social scene Aaron and I were having dinner in a popular intimate restaurant.

Intimate:  Money speak for pack ’em in like sardines.  Definitely a pandemic no-no.

This guy sitting close noted my jersey and asked “Where did you go to high school?” Giving him a look over and noting he was about as old as my parents, I prepared for a wage of wits.

I have a feeling people from the Detroit Metro area will get the slam in his look-down-his-nose-at-me question.

Knowing my – jerk – audience, I said – coolly and with confidence – “I’m from Detroit.”

Sneering, he asked, “Yeah?  Where were you born?”

Happy to help him dig himself deeper I smiled and replied, “Well, back then it was New Grace.  It later became Harper Grace.  Today it’s Sinai Grace.”

It was so new and so Catholic** my dad – who was a paramedic with the DETROIT volunteer fire department – was not allowed to go into the delivery room with my mom.  You know – because he might see something?

I rounded out the rididculous interrogation by telling him that I’d regularly gone to Hudson’s in Detroit for shopping, had ridden the trolley car, ate at The Red Devil Pizza, and was a regular at Dooley’s Bar – as a child – when it was owned by “Uncle Bob” and frequented by grads of St. Mary’s of Redford High school.

This would be before Leon Spinks bought it, incidentally.

I continued sharing real Detroit stories.

As opposed to “the burbs” – where HE grew up.

I’m not a poser.

Detroit. It’s not the burbs.

Been to Floods, too, though that was later.

**Non-Catholic hospitals were allowing the dads into the delivery rooms with their wives.  

I like to tell my kids I was born when the abacus was the computer.

ON BEING A CREATIVE

I declared to my parents when I was 3 – standing in the living room in my pajamas – that I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!

I also told them I’d have my own home and my own car by the time I was 18.  It took til 19.

Over the years I scrapped together a writing career I was proud of – in that I’d achieved what I set out to do.

I only know one other person who told me – as a kid – they were going to do something and then went on to do it.

More recently I wanted to up my game.

I thought I knew how.

I was in the middle of the process when…

For this next bit it’s best to use a metaphor.

I’m standing in front of my garden (writing career) evaluating what I might need to do to get to that next level.  Out of nowhere appears…

The dude.

Or if you prefer, the Universe.

I haven’t begun to absorb the sudden appearance to my left when he extends a hand and begins waving something stage left in.  Next thing I know I’m watching a mower mow down everything that was there.

“But…”

I stand there looking at tiny bits of green in the dirt.  The dude?  Extending a hand he waves in something from stage RIGHT!

A massive tiller comes in and chops everything to bits, shredding roots while it turns the soil.

“But…”

I’m staring at a plot of dirt any gardener would salivate over.

I mean it’s primed and ready to go!

“But…”

Before I can comprehend what just happened the dude turns to me and extends a hand.

And says…

“Got those seeds ready?”

For moments I stare at him in semi-shock.  

I am seriously taking in his pose – arm out.

He waves the hand then holds it out.

“Seeds?”

My hand goes – instinctively – into my pocket.

I realize I’m wearing my jean jacket.  

The thing is the move is protective.

Of the seeds.

The dude stands quietly – hand outstretched – watching me.  His message is clear

“Are you serious about this or not?”

My fingers curl protectively around the seeds.  

“But…”

Then the dude speaks

“What do you expect to happen in that pocket?”

In other words, though there might be some lint, there’s no dirt, no water, and no sunshine.

“Ain’t no sunshine…”   Oh – never mind.  Ahem…

I get the idea in principle and with another glance at the newly tilled soil recognize the opportunity in front of me…

“But…”

These are secret seeds!

They’re dream seeds!

The ones I held in reserve lest they be destroyed!

“I repeat, “What do you expect to happen in that pocket?”

Waving the white flag – because he’s right – I hand over the seeds I’d been holding in my fist.

Wasn’t that difficult to get out of the pocket – surprisingly.

He tossed the seeds on the soil then walked away without a backward glance.  As I stared at his back I understood.

He didn’t look back because he has complete and utter confidence they will grow into a beautiful garden.

THAT is what it takes to be a creative.

To put yourself out there.

That kind of faith.

And yeah, sometimes you have to borrow that faith from the universe.

Which is, unlike some would like to imply – infinite.

Elizabeth.