It’s not you, it’s me

When I announced my resignation at my old job, I didn’t anticipate people throwing themselves at my feet, begging me to stay.  I know that in an organization as large as the one I worked for people quit all the time and your leave-taking is handled with surgical precision.  But what I didn’t expect was the empathy I received, and my colleagues’ misplaced understanding, especially when they learned about my new position (which is, actually, so highly protected with confidentiality agreements that all you’ll probably ever know is that I no longer work for a hospital, but I remain in healthcare).  Everyone supported me not because I was making a better career move but because of course I would get out of Detroit, if possible.  My new job is in a gorgeous university town, with farmer’s markets and funky restaurants and a large library system and miles of parks and it’s much closer to my home, so commuting doesn’t eat up my time like it once did.  But when I chose to pursue this new job, place was never actually a factor and I even felt pretty sad about leaving Detroit.  Despite all of its problems, all of its ugliness and violence, Detroit has a strong heart and, I still believe, tremendous possibility, at its core, and if anything leaving the city was listed as a con on my considerations list, not a pro.

It’s difficult, though, to recognize the violence taking place in the city and still feel comfortable there.   In the last few months it seems as though the violence has grown significantly worse.  My co-worker was mugged at gunpoint coming out of the symphony, in front of the entire crowd – the mugger tore her purse off her arm so violently she ended up with huge blood blisters along her collarbone.  Three armed robberies occurred in the parking lot where I parked my car, and two weeks ago a homeless man through himself on my car hood and refused to get off for minutes, which honestly, felt like hours.  I’ve been continuously approached by homeless people, asking for money, and nothing makes me more nervous than being approached – I’ve never liked it.  So certainly, when I drove to New Job yesterday, through rural Michigan, watching the snow fall softly onto the ground, the sky all indigo light, certainly, it was more pleasant.  And I feel badly, admitting it.

S. still works in Detroit and since receiving his promotion, he’ll be there for a while.  He works for a Jesuit university which believes in serving its community so he does quite a bit for the Detroit area, but I know its not enough.  I believe we Michiganders have to commit to our city if we want our economy to rebound. But there is so much desperation…so much loss, within the city limits,  I don’t know how to begin wrapping my head around it all.  But I am going to find a way.

Just because I left a job, doesn’t mean I’ve left the city.

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5 Responses to It’s not you, it’s me

  1. I think cities around the world have become sad places. When you look behind the glamour, there’s usually tragedy.

    I noticed that subtle reference to snow. Glad to hear you’ve got some. It is unseasonably warm in Germany and our spring daffodils are poking out of the soil. We are hatless, scarfless, gloveless and we should be freezing. It’s very odd.

  2. Katie says:

    I’ve been reading recently about Southfield becoming the next Detroit– with “white flight” and other prejudice-inspired social phenomenon. I have this rose-colored-glasses picture that if I stay in Southfield and send my kids to school there, that it will become this wonderfully diverse community instead of all of the white people moving to the northwestern suburbs like they keep doing, for fear of home values deteriorating. Save Southfield! 😉

    But I hear you about Detroit. And knowing someone who was personally, recently, mugged is scary.

  3. Emily says:

    Good for you, making the decision not to abandon the city! Volunteer to work with inner-city kids. It’s the most rewarding work, and the hope for the future lies with them.

    And snow? What’s that?

  4. litlove says:

    I’m a terrible coward really, and wouldn’t feel comfortable with that level of crime about. I’m sorry, but aren’t town councils and politicians and police forces and social workers supposed to be there to help with these kind of problems? Or am I just hopelessly naive? The charity I’m promising myself I’ll get involved in as soon as I have a little time, will be library visiting for the elderly and housebound, as I think I have to stick with what I know. Anyhow, all this rambling is to say you’ve nothing to apologise for, Courtney. You’re responsible for your own happiness and no one else’s.

  5. Carl V. says:

    I am excited for you and the changes in your life. It is difficult to see violence anywhere, but especially in a city you love. In some ways in takes courage to stay in an environment like that and at the same time I often wonder if it is really foolishness and not courage at all. I think if a person’s heart and calling is to be somewhere to try to enact change that is one thing. But life is too short to put oneself in harm’s way for no reason. I understand why you feel bad but you need to take care of your own needs first. I really hope this new place is as happy as it sounds like it might be.

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