The sound of the lawnmower ripping through my street Saturday morning was a sign: winter was officially over in Detroit and people - actual humans - were outside. It was a shocking contrast to my first few weeks in Detroit, when I went days without seeing any neighbors or strangers as I walked around in the snow, trying to get a sense of my new surroundings. My lawn was also in dire need of a cut. Having never owned nor operated a lawn mower in my adult life, I wasn't exactly sure how to go about getting the grass back to normal, non-prairie levels. Do I ask to borrow someone's lawn mower? What will I do the second time I need to cut the grass, borrow it again? Do I buy a lawn mower of my own? Will I be able to operate it without killing myself? These are questions I never thought I'd be asking myself before I had a house, but then again there are many questions I never thought I'd be asking myself before I had a house. These include everything as exciting as interior design and justifying my normally useless purchases from Anthropologie's "House & Home" section to the not-so-exciting world of bills and fencing. Most days it feels like I have no idea what I'm doing, but eventually, somehow I get through it. The house is one of two challenges I'm dealing with. The other is Detroit and trying to find my place in it. I've grown hyper sensitive to this city, its history and the people who have called it home for much longer than I have. Now that I am feeling more grounded, I am attempting to figure out how I can belong, contribute and tell their stories in an authentic way through the only medium I know and love: writing.
These are both welcome challenges. I'm listening and learning and I feel that I've grown in ways that I never would have, had I not found myself here. I've found myself in a more reflective mood, moving towards a desire to work on longer, book length and multimedia projects and not being guided by an editor's permission and payment for a particular work, but for my own desire and belief in that particular work. I've found a room in this house that I'm only using for writing and it now seems to be able to contain and maintain the plans for the ideas that I had in the back of my head, but never really had the chance to think about before. I don't know what, if anything, will come of them, if they will have some kind of impact, if they are even worth exploring, but the physical space to think about it all is therapeutic. I am not punishing myself for letting my mind wander, for letting myself look towards possibilities I want to pursue solely for the love of story telling.
Before I had a chance to descend into a deep analytical discussion with myself on the pros and cons of owning a lawnmower, there was a knock on the door. A neighbor had hired someone to mow his lawn, and he had come over to ask if we'd be interested too. It was a simple solution, and less than an hour later, we had a neat and tidy lawn and the growing feeling that we were slowly becoming part of the landscape here, too.