Sometimes We Have To Leave

I grew up a small town kid with a small town mind. 

I like scary movies, and drawing, and playing basketball in the driveway, and playing with my friends in the field across the street from me or the woods that was at either end of the road. 

We lived on a lake and lake life was a big part of my childhood. 

As I got older I became more withdrawn and introverted. 

I watched movies, I drew, I wrote, and I went to the movies by myself or with friends. 

My world stayed rather small, with few friends and a localized area I haunted, and it stayed that way until I started college. 

I went to college in Flint, to the community college there, and while my dad was born and raised in the city, and worked there from his teen years ‘til his thirties, it was a city I had never spent much time in. 

My world opened up when I went to college and when I first started getting around people who were not small town folks from the same school I had attended my whole life. 

My life really opened up when I started hanging out in Downtown Flint with a friend at the Capitol, a once proud movie house that had seen better days and was now a music venue for local and national acts. Suburban teenagers would come to Flint on the weekends and go to the Capitol to see a show, go to the coffee house to loiter or listen to an acoustic act, or just hang around a downtown area that was starting to teeter towards collapse. 

Maybe it was then that I fell in love with the city I’d call home for nearly twenty years. 

I have waxed poetically about Flint in the past as a city I both loved and hated. 

A city whose people are strong and resilient and creative. 

When I moved here the apartment I moved into downtown had its front door boarded up, there weren’t many businesses open, and people avoided the city. I moved down here at the birth of Flint’s resurgence though. 

I moved as an annual summer car show was becoming the juggernaut it is now, taking up the full downtown area over the course of two days. 

I moved down here just as the suburban and city creatives were getting together to create a collective that rekindled an art scene that had grown stagnant. 

I moved downtown just as the machinations were being put in place to start bringing more restaurants and business downtown. 

I came as more events and festivals started to pop up. 

I came at the beginning of something that is still going nearly 18 years later. 

I moved into Flint at the behest of an acquaintance that became a future landlord. I was wandering the city edges with a friend and this man – who had managed aspects of the local music for the Capitol – asked me where I was living. When I told him he ragged on me a little, since I was living in a dusty small town at the edge of the county. He had a place coming up for rent in the same building the friend I was with lived. I should check it out. 

I did. 

I moved in when it was available. 

My life changed. 

I was suddenly in that arts collective. 

I was part of the rekindling of the arts scene. 

I was part of the night life and went to the bars with friends to sit and sip pop and just hang out and talk for hours. 

I had traded the mall’s food court hangouts for diners and diners for bars. 

My circle opened. 

My life opened. 

Flint is where I had a creative second act. 

Where I started self publishing. 

Where I started a horror event organization with friends. 

Where I loved. 

Where I lost. 

Where I met my wife and married her. 

Flint is where I worked and stayed. 

Where we got our first house. 

Where we had our daughter. 

As much as I love the city though, I am tired. 

I am tired of the dirty politics. 

I am tired of the water crisis that never seems to end. 

I am tired of a city council that will never remove the sorest thumb that sits on it and so it will never get the work it needs to do, done. 

I am tired of a school board that would rather look back at long gone glory days of the school district and not towards what the future for these dwindling students looks like. 

I am tired of the monolithic organization that is a monetary salvation and angel to so much but which has become relied upon for too long and thus too powerful. 

I am tired of a city where police are hard to find. 

I am tired of people not caring about how fast they drive or if their car is legal. 

I am tired of seeing the absentee landlords that cash checks but won’t maintain properties. 

I am tired of how a small group of people chooses how the city grows and doesn’t let it really become what it could be. 

I am tired of the cronyism. 

I am tired of the walls around people and areas and neighborhoods. 

I am tired of how stubborn the city is when it should be a leader due to the hardships we’ve faced and the funding that had become available. 

We aren’t though. 

We’re the same. 

And as much as I love Flint, it’s time to go. 

It’s time to move. 

More than anything, it’s a reflection of a house that’s gotten a little too cramped for two adults, a growing toddler, and two big dogs, but the city is part of the decision. 

We don’t trust the school system. 

We don’t trust the leaders. 

We don’t trust many of the people anymore. 

I am not sure it’s all ‘better’ where we’re heading, but it’s different. 

We need different. 

But it’s hard. 

When we go, and it’s not far, we’ll leave memories and ghosts. 

We’ll leave ourselves. 

I will still work in the city (for now) and will do my events in the city (as long as I am able) and will be as much a part of things I am able to be, but this is a chapter that will close after many, many years. 

And it’s strange.

And it’s scary. 

And it’s sad. 

But it’s needed, and it will be a relief. 

Life is full of death and rebirth. 

We have had our fill of death for a while. 

It’s time for a little of that rebirth and I can’t wait. 

…c…

HEY! I am moving. Go buy some books and help a fella out!

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