Celebrate Me Home

One of my favorite moments ever in a movie is from an obscure film called “Moonlight and Valentino.” It starred Gwenyth Paltrow, Whoopi Goldberg and Jon Bon Jovi, among others. In it, Gwenyth is the younger sister of Elizabeth Perkins. They are laying in bed after a family tragedy, and the older sister touches the younger sister’s face and says, “When I look at your face, I see my childhood.”

20 years ago, my parents and my sister left Detroit to start anew in Arizona. I refused to leave Michigan, holding on like Kate Winslet holding onto the life raft in “Titanic.” I stayed for 4 additional years, until I realized I was the only one left of my friends not married. Taking it as a sign, I moved to AZ and it has worked out just fine for me. But, I never really left Detroit.

There are very few cities that are a part of your heart and soul forever. Detroit, for all it’s challenges and struggles, is such a city. If you are from Detroit, you are always a Detroiter. No matter where you end up. You root for The Tigers and Red Wings (and, alas, The Lions), even when you are watching them play your new hometown team.

Coming back to the city for The Addams Family was a surreal experience. The city of Detroit itself looks AMAZING. It is revitalized and looks better than I’ve ever seen it. The Fox Theatre: no words. By far the most incredible theater any of us have ever seen…and we have seen a lot.

We went on a tour of the Fox and I kept asking the tour guide if it always looked like this. Yes, she said. Like in the 90s? Yes, she said. Then it hit me : I was never old enough to appreciate its beauty.

And then, on Saturday, the faces of my childhood came pouring in to see the shows. The faces looked the same, but even more beautiful than I remembered them. Those faces hold within them all of the memories of my life.

The outpouring of love took my breath away. Seeing my son sing at The Fox, sitting with the ones who remember me when: when I did plays in my basement and charged my neighbors admission; when i danced around the back room of my dad’s shoe store using the window decorations as props; when I was in plays at Camp Seagull, happy to be on stage even if I was shoved in the back corner so no one could hear me sing; when I danced and sang Donna Summer songs around the house with my college and law school roomies; being with these people, it made it all the more real to me that this was a remarkable achievement.

So Detroit: keep on doing what you do best. Keep growing and getting stronger. Take pride in your past and keep pushing for your future.

I don’t sign the walls of the theatres with the cast. I don’t normally feel comfortable even though they all tell me to do it. But I signed the wall of the Fox. I signed next to the likes of Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld. There is an Ochs on that wall now too.

Just showing you, my dear city, that no matter what, I will always be there.

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Kenny Loggins Celebrate Me Home;

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4 Responses to Celebrate Me Home

  1. Kelli James says:

    Just fantastic Ally!!! Love you and your wonderful family of friends!

  2. Sue stegemoller says:

    Tears. So beautiful and so awesome your friends could see Sam perform in your home town

  3. Lenny says:

    Luv u. I’m so proud of you.
    -tchisa

  4. Heather says:

    I’m choked up. Love you, and LOVE this more than anything I’ve ever read from you or about Detroit. That was commencement worthy writing. I am proud to be your lifelong friend and equally proud to say I’m from Detroit. OK…I’m going to cry now.

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