Driving Home From Detroit


I drove my friend home last weekend after the club closed. She lives in the outskirts so we had to pass Ojibwe Park. The trees looked like things out of nightmares, something that might have really spooked me as a kid, but I don’t think there’s anything to be afraid of realistically, except for maybe coyotes. If we were younger we probably would have stopped to build a bonfire, despite the snow. Dana would have been in the front seat. Tonight she already looked tired. Or maybe “disappointed,” the result of having high expectations.

I just like speeding on the highway with no body around, no thing around, except for street lamps, hung like rows of mechanical scarecrows. This car is fucking fast. I’ve become such an aggressive driver since I started on it. So smooth it feels like gliding on air. In fact, I’d wished Dana lived even farther away. For her there was nothing else to do. Nothing in this city after 4AM except for the casino and that place is depressing. We considered getting groceries at the 24hr supermarket, but our appetites had been suppressed and it didn’t seem too alluring.

Detroit looks magical from this side of the river. The people here actually look up to it. The river glistens all the way home, skyscrapers fluorescent in rainbow color. It’s beautiful. that’s all there is. I follow the river home all the way to the darkness, where the river turns into the lake. Where I live there is nothing. You can’t see any lights in the distance, in Michigan, or on the freighters. It’s just pitch black. You can’t tell where the sky starts and the water ends. It’s a sublime feeling, staring at this darkness, and very special to me. It was a favorite spot when I was a teenager, I think because it demanded my servitude against everything else. None of your problems matter when you have no sensory perception and you don’t exist. Of course, I could hear the waves if they weren’t frozen over. And there is always the irrepressible hum of traffic from all directions. Detroit to the north, Chicago to the west, Toronto to the east. This place is fucked.

Even before the Europeans came no one wanted it. It was too weird. A thick peninsula of Carolinian forest and marsh lands. Abundant in fruit and fish. But always too transitory. Between one state of being and another. It was TOO precious. The missionaries heard about it from an estranged French traveler who had befriended some Iroquois people and used the passage as a shortcut. The first thing the priest did when he got here was smash the statue of peace. Numerous bands of nomads passed through without getting into each other’s way– that was what the statue was supposed to represent– peace in transit. No one and every one’s territory.

It is still very much a place for transit, and if you consider alcoholic apathy as peace then I guess not much has changed. But this is why it’s so bizarre to settle down here. The Ambassador Bridge looms over the university, semi-trucks tossing diesel all over young minds at all hours of the day. It’s stupid. The air stays in the back of your soft palate and it tastes like poison. Or coke drips. Even the birds have left the conservation area because of the battery factory operating across from it, on an island in between the two countries. It performs an everlasting orchestra of migraine-inducing high pitches and simultaneous nausea-inducing low-pitches.

Dana just wanted to go to a party. She wanted to meet new people and dance. Downtown was totally empty. When we parked in her driveway, I got the feeling that we’d still be up for a couple hours. Her sister was taking care of the baby so I think Dana just wanted to make the most of it. Drunk and defeated, she sat in the kitchen rolling spliffs with automatic precision. She debated about the positives and negatives of owning a house in this city. I couldn’t honestly lend her advice. I have no idea why humans decide to do anything. In no good or bad way, life just seems abysmally meaningless for whatever interpretation or passing impulse. Dana fell asleep before me, leaving me subject to the morning alone. Twilight bled in through the blinds as I lay awake beside her. The only thing I fantasized about was driving away, continuously.