Knowing that I only have one more year left in my M.F.A. program, I’m trying to figure out what to do and where to go afterwards, or at least in the next few years; it doesn’t have to be right after. I don’t know when it will be, but it would be nice to be prepared for leaving Baltimore. And I think I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter where I go, in some respects.
For one, there’s always something new to see and a new city to get to know intimately. New York City, Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland (both of them), Scottsdale, New Orleans, Vancouver, Toronto, Paris (though I do really enjoy the smaller cities/towns in France), London….The list goes on. If I could, I think I would move every few years to try out a new city, at least for a couple of decades. Then I’d choose a city and stay put. This isn’t very realistic, monetarily or careerwise, but it’s fun to think about.
Speaking of careers (and hobbies), there’s so much I want to do. I would love to work in a New York publishing house as an editor, or maybe even in production. Or as a playwright on or off Broadway. I would love to work in Hollywood as a screenwriter, or even a video editor (preferably in television, but movies would be good too). I want to learn more about graphic design and could even see myself as a professional graphic designer. I want to learn more about history and languages (there’s always something there). Secretly, I wish I was the kind of person who could be a college professor, because I think that version of me could enjoy teaching creative writing; with my M.F.A., I could even do that, but I doubt I will. I want to be a photographer and a painter; I could do that anywhere, and in fact I plan to, at least the photography part—as an amateur.
Now that I’m winding down my degree, I’m realizing I will have spent eight years in college, 22 years total in education, 23 years in Indiana, and at least four or five years in Baltimore. I’m realizing that I’m starting to lose track of how old I am, and my body is getting creaky, and I’m losing hair, and I know that, when I finish this program, I will be 26 going on 27. Imagine! Almost three decades before I’m really “done” growing up and getting my education. Life starts then; life starts next summer, and that’s both gratifying and scary.
Because although I want to write in some capacity (even if it’s on the side, secondary to my career), no matter what I end up doing, I don’t want to box myself in. There’s no sense limiting myself. And for that reason, I’m thinking more and more that it doesn’t matter where I go because I can always find something to do there. There’s no perfect city. There’s really nowhere safe, even. People argue and complain about, and pontificate on, the safety or danger of a city, the politeness or rudeness of its residents, and so on, but there’s no perfect city. It’s all in how we see it, and that could even change over the years.
There’s nowhere that’s truly safe, but everywhere has its good along with its bad. Baltimore included. San Francisco included.
With that said, I leave you with something I found tonight when I looked up San Francisco. Of note: It directly addresses Baltimore and the East Coast as well as San Francisco (let alone other cities).
“I agree that San Francisco is a lot more dangerous than most people believe. I was born in SF, but I have lived in Maryland for most of my life. I have lived in Baltimore and know the ghettos of D.C. like the back of my hand. However, I frequently fly home to San Francisco because all of my family lives in The City.
The difference between Baltimore and D.C. is that if you don’t really bother anyone, you won’t have any problems. In B-More nad D.C., you have crazy homeless people who will beg you for change and such. But most people that killed in the ghettos of Maryland get killed over big drugs and big money; random innocent people are rarely victimized for no reason. SF is not like that. There are so many crazy people in SF. About two weeks ago, I was walking down Stanyan St. where it intersects with Haight St. across from Golden Gate Park which is a wild ass area filled with mentally ill homeless people, teenage runaways, rough road warrior/fresh out of prison looking types and weed dealers who sell bud basically right in front of the police station. I have seen rival weed dealers fist fight each other at this intersection and crazy street people harass normal people walking by. As I was walking across the intersection near the Haight Ashbury McDonald’s, a Filipino or Mexican looking kid in baggy clothes with his hat turned sideways yells at me from across the street, “A yo A’s hat! What nationality are you?!!” I was shocked that anyone would have the balls to yell something so brazen and offensive at me. I turn my neck and look at him and he is staring at me scowling stopped dead in his tracks with a menacing pose. I just kept on walking towards the hotel I was staying at right around the corner. In all of my years in the ghettos Maryland, I have never felt that threatened by a random stranger on the street.
A lot of violent street crime that I have witnessed with my own eyes in San Francisco doesn’t make any sense. About a week and a half ago during the Gay pride parade activities, I was standing waiting for the 47 line bus on Van Ness near the Civic Center which was blocked off for the parade. There were gay people, lesbians and obvious transexuals flooding the sidewalks. As I was waiting for the bus, I saw a group of ghetto looking twenty somethings, one short Whited dude wearing a white T-shirt, a green and yellow Oakland A’s fitted and light blue Girbaud shuttle jeans grabbed my attention for some reason. I felt a bad vibe in the air. Before you know it, that little ghetto White dude was punching a random White girl walking past him on the sidewalk. As she felt to the ground, he whipped out a camera and took a picture of her as she struggled lying on the sidewalk. No one came to help the girl. She ended up running frazzled, scared and crying trying to catch the bus as it drove away. In all of my years living in Baltimore, I have never seen thugs beat up random women on the street for no reason.”