Living for the Citay 3: Charm City Redux

Pic: View from back patio; the plastic bag, the only blight on the scene.

While I’ve been enjoying the beautiful weather and forgetting that it’s March not May, I forget that others haven’t been enjoying life as much as I. For the last two days I have blissfully sought the sun, taking advantage of its rays during my lunch hour, feeling it massage my scalp through the sun-roof of my car, and warming my face as I sat in my backyard facing the sky. Now today it’s a little chilly-considering our past two days of 77 degrees-and my mood started to dampen. It could be the fact that I also have my car back at the body shop so have had to spend my day off running errands I hadn’t planned for…but that is boring will not jump on that tangent. So while I wait at home for the call to come pick up my vehicle, I began to read this month’s Urbanite magazine. For those who don’t know Urbanite is a gem of a free magazine that features local stories about folks in the Baltlimore community, city and neighborhood histories and initiatives, and showcases readers’ creative non-fiction writing in a section entitled “What You’re Writing”. This magazine is well-written, a treat that I look forward to each month.

As I perused this month’s edition of Urbanite I came across several stories of interest: two were under the “What You’re Writing” section (June 7. and It’s Hard…), another is a profile of a local florist entitled “Flowering of Station North” and finally “Recipe for Change” which is Urbanite’s 2012 Healthy Food Project. Each of these stories impressed me for different reasons; while the stories about the florist and the healthy food project made me want to take more than a cursory interest in the city I have chosen to live in, the afore-mentioned stories featured in the creative non-fiction section were like an arrow to my heart. ‘June 7’ is heart-breaking because the anonymous author narrates his first day of homelessness; it hit home if only because I know I live check-to-check with a miniscule savings and a retirement account that is still young. ‘It’s Hard…’ hit me because the author, Melody McSweeney, begins her first sentence, “It’s hard to believe Dad’s been gone almost twenty years.” My father also died (unexpectedly) going on almost 4 years this coming August, so I was immediately tied into our shared story. Then she went one step further narrating her family’s history and her subsequent losses which reminded me of my father’s family, by the time he passed away on August 30th 2008, his entire ‘growing up’ family: Mom, Dad, and younger brother had all passed before him. Sometimes when I’m experiencing my own pain and sharing it with my Mom and siblings I forget that others have had the same experience or worst. *Link to “What You’re Writing” included at bottom of post; scroll down the page to read ‘June 7’ and ‘It’s Hard…’, both are short and poignant.

I’m glad I decided to pick up Urbanite today; I feel inspired and since I’m someone who, for instance, could never renovate a home because I have a hard time seeing the ‘big picture’ when I’m mucking through the grime, today this magazine has provided that ‘big picture’, now it’s just up to me and other city residents to identify and offer our services. I’m not sure yet how I plan to help yet as my thoughts are developing as I write this. I sometimes look at this burned out shell of a city and really wish I could beam myself back to the 60s and 70s when now non-desirable avenues (think Pennsylvania and North Ave) were cultural centerpieces with nightclubs featuring jazz and blues artists. North Ave was even featured as a bustling corridor in one of my favorite John Waters’ films Hairspray (the OG version). I don’t know if I’ll stay in Baltimore since I yearn to go back to Cali and settle back in LA but Baltimore-formerly nick-named ‘Charm City’-is like an extension of my northern Maryland hometown and its residents deserve to have these abandoned and boarded-up areas utilized for the greater good of neighborhood residents. Baltimore has come a long way but it still has some growing to do and while I’m here I plan to contribute to its positive growth.  


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