I believe I had a perfect day. This is not my first, and I pray to all that is good and right in the Universe, that it will not be my last.
I am in Detroit staying with my Sister. She lovingly calls me a “bonus sister”, as we are sisters by our parents marriage. However, that has been for more years than we have not been sisters. Taking a chance, and looking to save some money, I did not check a bag and I flew here with just a backpack full of clothes. Literally, only adding my toothbrush and a comb. This is a dual purpose visit. First, my nephew’s high school graduation and second, my 55th birthday. I am grateful and happy to be in this place, doing these things and for these reasons.
Back to this day. We slept in after a night of gloriously connective conversation, good food, great beers and such, and a sated feeling post graduation celebrations. This day started slowly. We each got up in our own time and in our own way, drinking our morning beverages. We lounged about, flitted here and there, and then it was time. With sister as the tour guide, we set out.
We started at the Eastern Market. I came here as a kid growing up. My parents were part of a food co-op and every now and again it was their turn to hit the market for the bulk foods that were then divided between the neighbors. My parents woke up my brother and me sometime before dawn, stuffing us carefully, yet so unsafely, into the back of the station wagon to sleep on the way. Now, my brother used to be able to, and probably still can, sleep anywhere. Me? Nope. I am good on buses and airplanes, but not so much in other settings. Us kids unsafely stashed in the “way back”, me watching the lights pass by, off to downtown Detroit we went. The market was a bit creepy and dark, alive with sights and sounds and smells. The vendors prepared for the public as the sun started to rise. My folks often met friends and chatted as us kids wandered around. I recall my treat for the way home was a stick of rock candy. Score.
This Eastern Market is certainly not the market of old! I am thrilled to see that Detroit is making a comeback and the people are investing their time and money and resources to give new glory to the old girl. There are food courts and antique areas and car shows and samples galore. There is skin care and signs and shirts and hats and clothes and many, many more items one can peruse and sample and fondle and smell and see. I liken this experience to Pike Street Market in Seattle, but way more room to move around. We had a ball and talked to many fun and interesting folks. We talked about their booths and their wares and their food and their commitment to Detroit. We talked about our shared history coming to the market as kids and the rejuvenation now underway. We wandered a little outside of the market perimeter and found stores just as unique and just as fun. We got coffee and tea and learned about clothes and cheese. It was a blast.
Then we got hungry. In keeping with the theme of adventure, we went to a new place called the Detroit Shipping Company. This is a building made by stacking shipping containers about four high in a square. There is an open area inside with plenty of seating and a courtyard. There are two bars and about five food offerings; think food truck set-up. We had Asian and it was really good. We ate and explored and enjoyed the vibe. These entrepreneurial food and retail spaces are cropping up right alongside urban blight, crackheads, and the ghetto. I mean, the real ghetto. This irony is not lost on me. In fact, I have never seen so many security workers at the establishments or just driving around. Cheers to safety.
Our bellies full, we then toured the Brush Park neighborhood. This is the area where one finds the grand old houses of the early 1900’s. These houses were glorious and amazing and are now part of the rejuvenation of downtown. Some have been lost to poverty and theft and fire, while others are now a remodel project that will last for years. If you look, you can envision the grand homes of old with their extensive brick work, detailed cupola, oval windows and welcoming entries. Bring your imagination and you can see the horse drawn carriages, dirt roads and families of decades passed.
From there we ventured into the Corktown area to find and look for the Michigan Central Station. This is a gigantic old train depot that had been barely alive, and is now in the throws of an extraordinary remodel. I believe I saw this building in an Eminem video. I can only imagine how grand this campus was during its heyday. Without looking, and as if guided by the Universe, we found a unique gastro pub called Cork and Gable. We stopped to use the bathroom and for a beverage. Again, the industrial flair was ever present and integrated into the building and the vibe.
Side Note: my sister is really into the Feeding Detroit group that travels around the inner city and provides food to anyone who needs or wants. They routinely visit particular destinations with meal bags, clothes, and toiletries. She follows them on Facebook and will volunteer with them at some point. While we were at Cork and Gable, she was excitedly following their live feed and she noticed they were within a mile of our location. It was so close that we set out to find them. We DID find the truck and we stopped so she could meet the amazing folks who do this work. She was even on the Facebook Live feed! She geeked out and that made me happy, too.
By this time, it was later afternoon. We were both happy and fulfilled from our big day downtown. Back at her house we ended with snacks and more beverages outside. The sun was safely hidden behind the clouds, the breeze was cool and the rain intermittent. As we later landed on the couch inside and I started to write this post, we reflected on our perfect day. Time spent with loved ones, adventuring, seeing and experiencing the gifts of the world around us. Good food, good drink, great conversations and unique experiences.
This is NOT the Detroit of my childhood and I am really, really glad it is the Detroit of my present day. This is one of the sisters I never had growing up, but one of the bonus sisters I got in my adult life. We walked, we talked, we explored, we ate and we drank. I watched as my nephew ended one chapter, only to start another in his young life. I am sated in all ways. I am grateful and full and a little happy from the wine. These are the moments I wanted. These are the times I promised myself I would have. All of this is part of the reason I am living the way I am. This is the quintessential representation of my journey, my reason, my goal and my dream. This is IT!
I am glad and I am happy and I am grateful and I am satisfied. I wish for you moments, days, and times like these. I wish for you at least one perfect day.