One year ago today, we arrived in Detroit! All packed up tight in our Honda Accord! We had left behind my extensive family in California for the promise of a good engineering job for my husband. We had driven 2604 miles across the United States. We went through three time zones and 9 states! It took three long days to make this trip in our car with our two year old daughter in the back seat with only enough room for her car seat. We had packed everything we owned in that one car! We were starting over and we were alone!
We arrived in Michigan at night and got a hotel room, so I was not able to get a good view of my new state. In the morning we had to drive to my husbands work to get proof of income so that we could get an apartment. His new job was as an engineer at an automotive parts supply company that did contract work for all the main car companies. His new job was in the heart of Detroit. As we drive through town my heart sank.
I knew that Detroit was not going to be a prospering city. Everyone knew that Detroit faced economic hardships. I was not prepared for the what I saw and what I felt! As we drove through the streets I felt a horrible sense of despair! The city felt dead! There were countless abandoned buildings, many of which were burned down. I felt eyes watching me from inside these building, it gave me chills to think what might be going on in these dilapidated structures.
My husbands office was a a nice modern building surrounded by abandoned structures. The building was heavily guarded and secured with a fence and security guards. My husband went inside to get the paperwork and I nervously waited inside the car. We were safe because of the security. I watched as several homeless men walk across the street. I also saw a scantly clad prostitute walking back and forth on the boulevard trying to get the attention of passing cars! Every where around me felt sad and dirty. I have seen poverty before. I traveled through south america and India, places plagued with poverty. Those place still felt alive despite of the poverty! Detroit felt dead.
Detroit was once a prospering city! It was the home of the American Car companies. Due to globalization and outsourcing, the jobs in Detroit reduced greatly, leaving the population of Detroit jobless! In the last 20 years Detroit’s population has decreased by 61 percent. As a result thousands of building have been left vacant and destroyed. Schools, libraries, theaters, and factories all abandoned! Detroit tops the list of America’s Most Dangerous Cities for the fourth straight year. Violent crimes; murder, rape, robbery and assault are five times the national average. In 2013, 515 people were murdered in Detroit.
We had taken a leap of faith in the hope that it would improve my husband’s career path. But I was starting to feel like it was a huge mistake leaving California! We did not get support from people to get settled! We were alone, and even though it was same country Michigan felt very different from California.
My husbands job did not start well. The CEO had interviewed my husband on the phone back in California and liked him from the start. The CEO did not tell any of his department heads that he was hiring my husband. So from day one the managers in the department were not very helpful to my husband. There was a lot of anger at my husband for being hired above their heads.
My husband has a masters degree in mechanical engineering but not a lot of real experience! He took this job because he needed the training and the CEO had promised he would be trained. We moved across country for this training and this opportunity!These hopes soon crumbled in front of our eyes, just as the city of Detroit was crumbling to the ground!
The kind CEO that hired my husband was soon overthrown in a hostile coup, just a few months after we moved to Michigan. The new administration began to fire people that were loyal to the old CEO. Every day my husband got emails about new people that were fired from the company! It was an incredible stressful time.
We moved to the beautiful town of Farmington, It a suburb 30 minutes from Detroit . Famrington is a beautiful small town that prospered over the years, and had none of the urban decay of Detroit. I enjoyed our town and our new apartment, but still missed California!
Michigan weather unlike California is in a state of constant change and fluctuation! We moved to Michigan in July. One minute it would be oppressively hot and humid and the next a fierce thunderstorm would roll through. The winds would knock out the power and the thunder sounded like it would tear the roof off! I had never heard a tornado siren before moving to Michigan. The first time I had heard it I was freaking out not knowing what to do. Luckily there was no tornadoes.
The summer heat changed to cool fall! Fall in Michigan was stunning! I loved it. The temperature was perfect! The trees all changed to the most beautiful colors! We had a wonderful time in the fall. Michigan has wonderful pumpkin patches, farms, and apple orchards. Sadly this beautiful weather did not last long.
By Thanksgiving, the snow started to fall. At first we were excited for the idea of snow and having a white Christmas! 2014 was the coldest and snowiest winter in decades. For four months the snow came down. We faced a unique weather system called a polar vortex. This brought down the cold from the north pole to -60F. It was so cold that water would freeze instantly.
Honestly is was a miserable winter. We spent 4 months inside of the house. It was too cold to even play outside. The road conditions were incredible treacherous and dangerous! Every time my husband would leave the house for work I feared he would get in an accident! There was no sun, nor warmth. It was the hardest winter of my life!
We were so lonely here in Michigan! I had only one friend and no family. The Holidays passed and we missed everyone. My husbands family is all in India and he has missed them so much since being in the United States. I think I now truly understand how it feels to be so far away from family and friends. I empathize with him even more now.
We waited for winter to end and it took months. My husband’s job was incredibly stressful and he still was not getting trained and was doing tasks that were not even in his field.
During a discussion we decided we were not going to stay in Michigan another year! The loneliness! The weather! The lack of a job future! It was all too much! It was a relief when we agreed to move!
So here it is our one year anniversary of being in Michigan and we plan on moving on the first of August. We have no promise of jobs in California but its worth it! We learned through this experience that the important things in life are family, happiness, safety, and good weather. I took for granted the sun and having moderate winters, I will never do that again.
There are things about Michigan that I will miss. I reconnected with a friend from college who also moved to Michigan and I have enjoyed spending time with her and her children. I will miss the green grass everywhere and the summer rain! I will miss the lakes and the wilderness.
I know I will be happier in California near my family and friends. I am counting the days until we leave. I dont want to demonize Michigan but it was was one of the worse choices we have made! I am looking forward to a much needed change!