Last Wednesday was the first day that I started walking to work again since the warm season returned. When I first moved to Detroit, I walked to work from September-November, because I saw it as a great way to get in some exercise, and quite frankly because I hadn’t driven in over 4 years; getting used to driving again in a city like Detroit, where the driving culture is a bit aggressive was a lot to deal with. So when I first moved here, I wanted to drive as little as possible.

As I walked to work, I reflected on how different the journey was for me compared to at the beginning. When I first moved here, the walk was full of challenges and discomforts. First off, I kept getting lost once I entered downtown and was unsure of the quickest route to get to my office. Also, the new sights were overwhelming. Not only was I getting used to Detroit, but to living in the U.S again; I lived and worked in South Korea for two years before moving to Detroit.

I was also hyper-cautious on the journey because at the time, I was still in the process of separating fact from fiction regarding safety in Detroit. Like most people unfamiliar with Detroit, I too was impacted by what I had heard on the news about Detroit being unsafe. I noticed that almost everyone I walked past greeted me. This threw me off, because in Korea this didn’t happen. Actually, in most cities across the U.S I don’t experience this. Detroit has a unique sense of community.

Walking to work last week was a completely different experience. I felt at home walking through my community. Everything was familiar and I was at ease. I had navigated these streets many times before via car, bike and by foot and felt confident in my direction. I was able to truly enjoy the experience. The people I saw on the way felt like my neighbors, and not like strangers. I even recognized Maurice Cox biking past me, enjoying the sun on his journey to work. I bumped into colleagues once I got into downtown and had quick “catch up” chats with them.

This journey symbolizes my overall experience of living in Detroit. It’s been almost a year now, and I recall feeling very uncertain during the first few months here. I felt like an outsider in a new world. But now I am getting to a point where Detroit is starting to feel like home. The discomfort I experienced to get to this point makes me even more appreciative of where I am today. Cheers to an even deeper connection to the city in the future.

Gabrial Taylor

Year 5 Challenge Detroit Fellow