Courtney and her family will move from Seattle to Detroit next month. This is an email she wrote to her sister Deirdre, a Detroit-based maker and entrepreneur, who has helped make all of the change a lot easier.
date: August 6, 2017
subj.: Moving to You
Thank you so much for handling all of the on-the-ground details for our new apartment. Your photos were great, and for not having seen the place we just leased in person, I feel like I know what we’re getting into. It’s also so nice to have a clearer idea of what space we’ll be occupying during our first year in Detroit. And I’m loving that surprise third bedroom with the fireplace! I do not understand why they didn’t feature that in the listing.
Also, thanks for all of the good sofa recs. Almost a decade after our East Village place, we still have distinct but similar tastes. Except for the whole sectional vs. traditional couch thing.
We just bought our tickets for September 3rd. As I begin to count the time we have left in Seattle in days rather than months, I have this nervous energy. Though I’ve moved a million times, this feels different. My previous moves have been about searching for something really big — longing for some magic or a great new thing that didn’t exist in my current world (e.g., the buzz of living in NYC in my mid-twenties or starting law school in Seattle or being an expat in New Delhi). Not that Detroit won’t contain magic and greatness — I think it will — but life has changed and our reasons for the move are more measured and reasoned than previous moves. Family. Career. A place we feel like we can plant some roots.
Part of me is mourning the loss of our Seattle existence. We have rich friendships and professional lives, I have bands of women who support and love each other, Myra is happy at daycare and has friends she’s known since her first weeks on the planet, and Sheikh and I have our favorite spots speckled around the city. We generally love our Seattle lives.
But we wouldn’t be moving to Detroit if we didn’t believe we could grow in the ways we want to there. You have been such a huge part of helping me see that this move didn’t just make sense, but that it could be exciting. You remind me that Detroit is full of rich culture and that it is a unique experience to be part of this period in it’s many layers of history. You and I are (finally!) going to live minutes apart and we can meet for a yoga class or you can drop by to take Myra to ice cream. We are going to be able to have dinners with Mom and Dad and see family regularly. You have introduced me to so many of your places and people. You are part of this vibrant, eclectic community of friends who are makers and entrepreneurs and restauranteurs and lawyers and innovators who are also just really lovely people.
I’ve also been doing the work I needed to do. Sheikh reminded me recently that I actually didn’t like Seattle much in the first month we were here. Law school hadn’t started — I wasn’t working and knew no one. I remembered verbalizing for the first time how much I needed strong female friendships where I lived, and how much I missed my friends in NY. After moving so many times in my life, I now know what I need when I move: to find purpose in meaningful work and community involvement, to grow rich friendships, to frequent a local coffee shop or two, and to build a list of activities to default to if I am feeling stuck inside. That’s my list. And it will take time to find the right combination of those things.
But you’ll be happy to know I’ve started to reach out and to research and to take stock of what these things might be for us in Detroit. Family. Professional opportunities for Sheikh and me. Lots of progressive political work that I want to be a part of. Two close friends, one from childhood and one from high school. I also had a fun lunch with a woman I knew in college who was so welcoming and generous with her knowledge of Detroit. I’ve started to find other immigration attorneys and have signed up for that Waldorf parent-child class with Myra I was telling you about. I loved going to Trinosophes with you and plan to get coffee there often. I’ve resarched where some great playgrouds are. I want to take Myra to all of the museums. And I can’t tell you how elated I was to discover that Detroit has an urban beach on Belle Isle. Because who doesn’t absolutely love urban beaches?!
And, the best part of moving is taking the plunge and allowing the place to surprise you.
Thank you for being such a rock for me. Can’t wait to be your neighbor in less than a month!
Photo by Courtney Skiles of the mosaic on the exterior of the Detroit Public Library.