Nothing can ever prepare you for being told that you’ve just won a house. Nothing ever prepares you for moving to Detroit, either. It is not the kind of place you can understand from afar. It’s not the kind of place many people want to take the time to understand, anyway, whether they live 15 minutes or 1500 miles away.
On Oct. 3, I landed in Detroit for a three day out-of-body experience. I walked down the escalator, staring at a banner that welcomed me to “America’s great comeback city,” out through baggage claim and met the founders of Write A House, a unique non-profit aimed at giving writers permanent residencies through rehabbed houses in Detroit to keep forever. Three hours later, I welcomed close to 100 people to my new home - a phrase that still feels strange to write, or even say. The night began and ended in a blur, in beaming smiles and hellos, in a news crew ambush, in the smooth countertops I brushed my hands against, the new wooden floors I walked on carefully in heels, in handshakes and speeches, introductions, congratulations, in conversation and community.