Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about the neighborhood. I’ve actually written quite a bit about my neighborhood before, and I haven’t exaggerated much. There’s the weird assumption that Bay Area residents live in one of the most affluent, progressive parts of the United States. Anyone that actually lives in the Bay Area knows better. Oh sure, we’re in this huge melting pot of international culture and history, but the whole wealth thing? Yeah, that doesn’t go so far. Unless you’re living in Silicon Valley, Marin County, or own a vineyard in Napa. Even San Francisco, for all its technology and splendor, has a huge homeless population. If you walk even just a couple blocks away from say, Union Square, you’ll notice that the Tenderloin looks and feels very different from Nob Hill. All cities have poverty, but San Francisco lets you see it up close and personal. I hate treating the Tenderloin like a modern Mordor, because there’s probably a lot of stuff worth seeing. Yes, there are strip clubs and prostitutes, but the food is cheap and buildings are decorated with murals! Not to mention it’s the only way to reach Japantown and the San Francisco Public Library from the north on foot…
I don’t live in San Francisco, though. I live in a smaller, but no less dangerous city about 40 minutes away. No, I’m not going to say which one it is (sorry, e-stalkers!), but I will say it’s one of the worst parts of the Bay Area. Not Oakland, but pretty close. I’m talking about a city that’s been mired in perpetual debt even before the economy crashed in 2008. It’s much like the Wild West out here; crime is rampant, and the police force is so underfunded, it’s not even funny. Someone tried to burn down the courthouse not long ago. No, seriously. The school system here is probably one of the worst in California, and that’s saying something. The other end of town has been developed into a modern urban sprawl, leaving this end perpetually stuck in crappy-1970s-crime-drama mode. This part of town is definitely working class…for those people that actually work. My neighborhood used to be one of the greatest districts in the city, but it’s long been forgotten about; the century-old buildings are in disrepair, and the former main street is a deserted husk of boarded-up shops. All the major chain retailers are, of course, at the opposite end of town. The closest business to the house is an adult bookstore, a yoga place, and a seedy corner drugstore. It is not safe to walk around at night, and it’s not much better during the day. A man was murdered in the street in broad daylight about three houses away. Police sirens are common at night, and gunshots only occasionally. I’ve heard screams a few times. That story I wrote about a drug deal going down in front of my driveway?
Yeah, that happened.
So, why do I still live here? Family. The house I live in has been part of my family since it was built about a hundred years ago, and it’s been my pseudo-base of operations for my entire life. The neighborhood has just gotten worse over the decades, but the house is still quite liveable. The recession hit my family hard, so a little banding together was needed to make sure we got through it. I’ve been saving up, but it’s hard when you have to take care of the disabled and elderly. Now that I’m unemployed, I can’t just strike out and look for an apartment. It’s expensive to live in the Bay Area, and I’d need something way better than minimum wage to maintain a decent standard of living. It just feels…I don’t know. Like I’m stuck in a trap. I know I’m smart and capable enough to find something better, but how? Where? No wonder I like traveling to the city so much; it takes me two miles to get to the nearest bus stop, but at least it’s an escape from all of this.