The day before my grandmother was buried, my father called from the funeral home where he was keeping her body company in between visitations. "You should see the light," he said. A honeyed afternoon glow was casting quite a spell on the baby blue casket, and on the prematurely blooming trees outside our house during a very early Detroit spring. Because he didn't have his own camera with him, and the sun would be down by the time we found a way to get to him, I began walking through the house with my own camera, thinking: this is my grandmother's last sunset above ground.
Argusta Sloan was perhaps the biggest fan of Detroit Ho. Our last few conversations together were filled with recollections of that summer. I was lucky, she reminded me, to have friends who would come such a long way just to spend time together. The idea of that period was warming to her, and I thought back to the afternoons in the backyard when she held court among my friends, making speeches as people chewed on chicken wings while sitting on wooden stumps, fending off our begging dogs.
When I went to Detroit last week for my grandmother's funeral, I fell more deeply in love with my family and with the city they call home. Like afternoon light, it's something difficult to capture, something you have to see for yourself.
So consider it: Detroit, 2012. Bring your unedited poetry manuscripts and your quarter-done dissertations. Bring your cameras and your age-old recipes and your work clothes.
There are a couple of rooms that still need transforming. A garden that wants to live again. Book clubs to start, film screenings to be had. The queer friendly San Francisco tarot card deck needs reshuffling. And lots of good meals from Eastern Market are yet to be toasted with a Bells brewery beer in hand, in honor of a woman whose presence at the table will not soon be forgotten.