You Can't Go Home Again

I may tout myself as this hardcore New Yorker (11 years in this city gives me the street cred), but I was born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit. So my 11 years here doesn't quite eclipse my 18 spent there. There are things I do that will always anchor my Michigan roots. Sometimes I nasal my As when speaking (even if I don't want to admit it). I secretly still call it pop and not soda (though New York has trained me to say the latter). I'm an excellent driver (I learned to drive in snow). 

I love the Red Wings and Michigan football. And cherries. And Vernors--the gingeriest pop in the whole wide world, putting all other ginger ales to shame. When I listen to Motown, I get to own a piece of it because my dad also grew up in the suburbs of Detroit when that music played on the radio for the first time. 

But I left Detroit for college and never went home again. I visit, mostly for holidays. But not even a single summer was spent back in my hometown. I was almost eager to shed that skin and never return. So I didn't. 

It's true what they say--you can never go home again. Maybe New York does that to a person. I know other friends who took to this great city like I did and just couldn't go back to their hometowns. I walk around here and think to myself daily, "How does anyone live anywhere else?" New York changes you--but I still didn't grow up here.

So of course, I got chills watching the Chrysler ad during the Super Bowl. Those amazing shots of my first city. I recognized everything. The statues, the artwork, the rubble. It's the city where my dad took me to Tigers baseball games, driving down Woodward Avenue to the real Tigers Stadium. And countless trips to the Fox Theater for concerts and movies on a BIG screen (Spartacus! Ben Hur!)--for me, the most notable was getting to see Frank Sinatra when I was 8. It was the city that's fallen apart over the years, failing to really rebuild, or innovate industrially. It tugged my heartstrings.

I may never leave Brooklyn, but I still have a Michigan drivers license. It's been impossible for me to give it up. (Not just because they make it so damn easy to renew in the state of car culture.) But because once that goes, I've made the final split. Intellectually, I'm ready. But I'm a creature of nostalgia and sentiment--soon enough I'll just bite the bullet. I pay taxes here. I should probably get around to voting here too. But getting to say I'm from Detroit gives those of us lucky to say so a sense of pride--it's gritty and tough. I'm not some California lightweight. It's hard to let go.

The transition is tough, maybe because my family is also abandoning Detroit one by one. It's not just me who has gotten up and left (though I was first)--it's everyone. My parents won't be too far behind, that is as soon as one of us gets around to giving them a grandkid. And when that era ends, I'll consider it one of life's semicolons, like my dad says.

Someday I want to take my children to Up North Michigan to have summers on the Great Lakes looking for Petoskey stones and walking around Mackinac Island, riding bikes and eating fudge. I want my kids to love hockey (only the Red Wings, of course) and call it pop not soda. I want them to drive cars in ways that would make their Michigan family proud. And maybe they'll get to lay a little claim on Detroit too, because it'll always be home to me, even if I can't go back. 

I watch a lot of Star Trek

This is a stupid statement. Either you're thinking, "Of course you watch a lot of Star Trek. Look at you." Or, "Why on earth would you admit that?" 

In either case, I have actually been watching a lot of Star Trek lately. I have had an on-again/off-again relationship with Star Trek since I was a kid. It's my dad's fault. We used to watch returns of the original series together and make nachos. And when The Next Generation was announced, I was about 8 years old, and I remember being upset that the captain was going to be bald. This was apparently heresy in my 8-year-old brain. 

In middle school I went from casual consumer to hardcore fanatic. As any uber-awkward pre-teen with zero social skills to speak of does, I sank into that fandom in order to give my little life some meaning. This was an oversight. I didn't know the first think about talking to boys, but dammit, I could know that show inside and out. And know it I did.

My sister and I, and our two best friends, went as Star Trek characters for at least one Halloween. There were latex Klingon foreheads, plastic phasers, and pin-on communicators involved. I started taping episodes to keep i a collection. There are still heaps of VHS tapes in my mom's basement with an unknown quantity of episodes all labeled either "TNG" or "DS9" and title. I actually knew them all by title. I still might.

In high school though, I buried this love. You couldn't talk about that for obvious reasons. No one should ever know about that one Star Trek convention, or the fact that you may have had (and worn) a Bajoran earring. It's probably good that I abandoned some of these habits. But still.

By college I had found a few kindred spirits (we watched Voyager till the bitter end, though I had weirdly given up on DS9 at some point), but it was still largely a hidden facet of Elana. But Enterprise sucked, and the movies got worse, and the love-affair was put to rest until some time later.

And that time is now, thanks to 3AM airings of TNG on the CW, and the magic that is the DVR. At any given point in time I have a nice stockpile of episodes to watch when everything else on TV sucks. Which is often. And I turn to them more and more because...well, they're just that good. Plus I get to appreciate old things with new eyes. Or older eyes. I never realized how inconsistent some rules of the universe are, or how hilarious some of the early writing was, or how often the show let Patrick Stewart break out of the Jean-Luc Picard severity and do some hilarious acting. 

So yes, I watch a lot of Star Trek. Even more enjoyable than getting to hang out with old characters I love and privately enjoying my own nerdy tendencies, is that this time around I'm just admitting to the habit. And something tells me I'll actually make a few new friends out of it this time around.