December 12, 2011

A Cup of Stoicism

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I'm starting a People of Detroit mini-series dedicated to Detroiters in coffeeshops. I've read enough artist statements in museums and spoken with enough people who attended art school to know I should explain the project  like this:

"Coffeeshop Cohorts examines coffeeshops, the alluvial fluid served therein, and the caffeinated pilgrams arrayed to consume it  - together yet alone in the frigidity of the modern American metropolis."


While that would assuredly garner an exhibition in the MOMA, the real motivation for moving the People of Detroit indoors, is that... its so coooooooold in the D, son! It's December, and despite our best efforts, the globe hasn't warmed enough yet to completely forestall Winter in America.

So, I was in one particular corporate chain coffeeshop that shall remain unspecified (however, in the event that said unspecified corporate chain coffeeshop offers to sponsor TPOD, The People of Detroit will be summarily changed to The People of Said Unnamed Corporate Chain Coffeeshop), when I saw a young woman sitting behind me.

Though I've been feeling especially withdrawn lately, the late morning light was perfect, as was her green shirt and red hair against the warm tones of the coffeeshop - I had to ask for a picture.

She obliged.

Meet Erika (I actually took NOTES this time!).  Come to find out, she is a horn player with the University of Michigan Symphony Band. She was in the coffeeshop (drinking tea, because she's cool like that) ahead of an audition with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

I asked if she was from Michigan originally. She explained that she came here for school from California. That initially struck me as remarkable, as the migratory arrow usually points in the other direction, but after giving it more thought, its not that unusual I suppose. U of M, after all, is one of the world's more renown universities.

Aside from being drawn here for school, Erika intimated that of all the places she's lived in and visited, Michigan is one of the places she likes the most.

I took the discussion of visiting places as an opportunity to casually bring up the three weeks I spent living in Shanghai, China while I shot an ad campaign for a multinational corporation [insert self-satisfied sniff], and I agreed. Of all the places where I'd spent time - New York, Chicago, the aforementioned China - Detroit specifically, and Michigan in general was the place where I felt most at home.

Then something occurred to me. Erika seemed amazingly relaxed for someone on her way to an audition.

"I've discovered that I do best when I'm relaxed," Erica said. "At some point you have to just let go, do your best and whatever happens, happens"

Sip on that.

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