An Ode to Detroit

I love Detroit. I consistently get asked why. My answer usually tries to convey the beauty and resilience of a city that has undergone devastating change, but really, I should just tell people to go. It’s something that truly has to be experienced to be understood. And I guarantee you will either love it like I do, or hate it like so many others.

I just recently spent 2 nights there. I stay at the Hostel Detroit when I go. It’s the cutest hostel that is a non-profit trying to educate people on the awesomeness of the city. It makes me happy and gives me a sense of adventure.

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Being welcomed by name and having kitschy sheets to sleep on makes me smile and waking up in a typical Detroit neighbourhood makes you feel less like a tourist and more like a part of the true city.

Don’t get me wrong, Detroit and it’s economic situation are not to be taken lightly. There are constant reminders of the hardship the city and it’s residents have experienced. Abandoned homes and historic buildings stand like wounded soldiers on every block, but they are hauntingly beautiful and are a quiet reminder of the fragile landscape that we have created in the industrialized world.

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I woke up early the first morning I was there to take some photos before the dew had lifted and while the sun was still low in the sky to try and show people a different side of Detroit. That the sun rises there as it does everywhere else. That people get up and go to work and kids head off to school. It’s functioning under intense pressure. The people who have stayed love their city. They are proud of it’s history and are sure that it will one day recover. They are committed to making that happen. You have to see beyond the graffiti and boarded up windows. It’s not an easy task I know. But it’s there. They want the rest of the world to see it too.

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I feel like maybe I am biased though. Detroit reminds me of myself and my struggles. Overlooked and under appreciated. Judged by many and loved by few. But those who know her feel her intensity and never forget her. I look forward to my next visit. She never disappoints.

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In Transition

Being in the in-between is undoubtably the most difficult place to be. Not knowing what is going to happen next, what you should be doing or saying and the inevitable self doubt that comes from any major life change weighs heavily on your mind.

I am there. I have chosen to be there, but it’s hard. Knowing that you are making decisions that affect the lives of countless people, some of whom you love more than anything in this world. I am acutely aware of the damage that I am causing on a daily basis. I see it in the strained faces and hear it in the distant conversations.

The worst part though, is second guessing myself. Wondering if I am doing the right thing, making the right changes or if I am just ruining everything I have thus far built in my life. Giving up my outwardly perfect world to reset back seems crazy, but I know if I don’t do that I will live as I have been – unfulfilled, unhappy and not being the kind of spouse or parent that my loved ones deserve.

And so, I set off on this journey. One of self discovery and self acceptance. Some days are better than others. There are days when I love who I am and am excited about the new opportunities that I am going to have. And then when I least expect it I become overwhelmed at the prospect of going it alone. Thinking that I will forever be a disappointment, a failure in the eyes of everyone on the outside.

I am incredibly lucky to have a co-parent who is as dedicated to preserving our family unit as I am. Things aren’t perfect, but we are figuring things out as we go. Electing to choose happiness and understanding instead of the hate and negativity that all too often consumes people.

And that is exactly what I have learned through all of this. Life is about choices. You make the conscious choice every moment of every day to be either happy or sad, hateful or joyful. I choose the joy and happiness that I deserve, that my son and his dad and the rest of our families deserve. Not because it’s the easy choice, but because I know it’s the right one.

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Why It’s Worth The Drive

I was packing my overnight bag tonight for my upcoming trip to Ohio and was procrastinating decided to hit Starbucks beforehand. While I was there, I realized I had hit my “Lucky Dozen” (not a shock, for anyone who knows me!) and mentioned that I was going to save it for my long trip tomorrow. When the barista asked me where I was going, I paused for a minute to decide if I wanted to give the real answer or a fake “just doing some shopping” answer. I told her the truth and much to my surprise, she responded with a “that’s awesome!”. It not the response that I am used to getting. Usually it’s a mix between disgust, confusion and them thinking that I am batshit crazy.

Why you might ask, would they think such things? Because I go for this…

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Yes, I drive 15 hours round trip to get tattooed.

Now, I am aware that there are plenty of tattoo artists residing here in the fair city of Toronto and in cities closer than Columbus, Ohio, but that’s not where Adam is. Adam France is an amazingly talented artist who I stumbled across on Instagram last year. I loved his artwork and so I followed him and one day we got to chatting about my pieces and I ended up heading down to see him. He is now my go-to artist and I couldn’t be happier.

It always amazes me when I hear people coming up with an idea for a tattoo and then they just randomly head to the closest or trendiest looking studio to have it permanently etched on their person. People do more research on a toaster than they do on a tattoo artist.

So, below I have listed the reasons why I make the trip and why everyone who is contemplating either their first piece or their 50th piece should do their homework ahead of time…enjoy!

1. THAT SHIT IS PERMANENT . Okay, I am aware that there is laser tattoo removal and the option for future coverup work to be done, but let’s be serious, no one wants to have to do that, or pay for that, later. It’s expensive and painful and time consuming. Just get it done right in the first place. In the end, the plane ride or long drive it takes you to get there will be much more fun and take way less time than either one of those options.

2. THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF ARTISTS TO CHOOSE FROM. Pick one whose art makes you inspired and whose previous work reflects the quality you deserve. There is no need to settle, this is a lifetime commitment. It’s okay to be selfish and picky.

3. I WOULD RATHER HAVE SOMEONE THINK I AM NUTS THAN HAVE THEM THINK I HAVE A TERRIBLE TATTOO. What’s worse than your parents thinking you must be off your rocker? Them being right because your daughters portrait looks like a zombie from The Walking Dead. Enough said.

4. TAKING THE TIME TO PLAN THE TRIP AND SAVE UP, GIVES YOU THE TIME TO REALLY THINK ABOUT YOUR PIECE. I know we all get excited when it comes to getting a fresh tattoo done, but trust me, rushing into things is never a good idea. Remember that time you got too excited about the hottie you met at the club in Vegas and you rushed to the alter? At least that could be annulled. Your dolphin jumping over a rainbow tattoo? Not so much.

5. IF YOU ARE PLANNING A LARGE PIECE, YOU ARE GOING TO BE SPENDING A LOT OF TIME WITH YOUR ARTIST. It’s nice when they aren’t an asshole. Or they don’t smell (that has to be THE WORST). Having a good rapport is key since you will be discussing design elements and placement with them so you want to feel comfortable voicing your thoughts and opinions and you also want to trust them and their expertise. Having good communication is the key to any relationship, even with your tattoo artist.

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And So It Begins

I am literally starting this blog while cycling at the gym hoping to somehow make it to 60 45 minutes. So if this post ends midway through, it’s because I have collapsed or fallen off due to my inability to multitask.

Things have changed drastically in my life in the past year and there are more changes to come. Some that have been incredibly challenging and some that were more liberating than even I anticipated.

I am here to vent, share and hopefully give you some laughs. There is certainly potential for tears, confusion and joy as well.

Cheers.

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