Monday, April 20, 2009

Almost Charming

“Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is.”
Iris Murdoch

Someone. Something. Someplace. Dame Murdoch’s words gave me cause to stop and wear a somewhat pissy grin for a moment. In that moment I suddenly found a reason for the perfectly confident and seemingly ever-negative comments about our neighborhood delivered by persons who have as much connection with it as I have with an affluent lifestyle:

They do not know its charm. Period.

Opinions regarding certain parts of, and people in, our city seem to spring from the same root as malicious gossip: If it’s good, why mention it? If it’s bad, then repeat it into immortality.

Is it still true that white people and black people in Birmingham, Alabama attend different schools and must only ride certain public conveyances? Is it still true that women cannot vote in this country? Is it still true that any child born of unwed parents is still socially unacceptable? Is it still true that all Americans are rude and all Germans have expansionalist ideas? (Well. The American bit is mostly true. Ask the French.)

No, these things are mostly untrue today and so are many of the rumors passed to and fro regarding our neighborhood. It is not mostly made up of rentals where drug lords party the night away and no one cuts their grass because they are too busy stealing each other’s rims and shooting one another’s dogs.

There are films and exhibits at the Castle Museum, Spires of historic churches that chime at evensong and shine at night, the library Jesse Hoyt endowed, amazing homes waiting for a combination of love and skill to pull them away from extinction and a network of neighbors and organizations quietly having dinner in each other’s homes, tending gardens on long evenings and organizing events. The neighbor hood has slept quietly after a long period of violence and decrepitude, but it is stirring and soon there will be more life than it was build to hold.

Venice may or may not be sinking, GM may or may not survive, Obama may or may not be the economic Messiah of the United States and the Cathedral District may or may not be the ghetto its clairvoyant critics seem convinced it is. How will you know if you do not visit yourself?

1 comment:

qemargie said...

Oh yeah and I think anyone who lives in an "undesirable" city relate to this one. Hugs from Detroit.