I wish I didn't live in Baltimore.

I wish I wasn't born here. I wish didn't grow up here. I wish I had never been here. I wish I didn't live in Baltimore. 

I wish I could watch CNN as naiively as the rest of the country and feel so embarassed for a city where this would happen. I wish I didn't live in a place where malls and schools and colleges and businesses closed for fear of riots. I wish I didn't know that looting, murders, robberies, police brutality, out-of-control youth and assaulting cops happen ALL. THE. TIME. here. I wish I was as naiive as people who aren't from here when I hear the phrase "West Baltimore". I wish I had never been told to not go to the west side of the city and NEVER EVER EVER EVER get lost there. I wish I didn't live in Baltimore. 

I wish I had never witnessed or been affected by racism in my high school or my part-time jobs, I wish I had no idea what the situation in Baltimore was really like. I wish I wasn't afraid to walk to my car at night. I wish nothing had ever been stolen out of my car, my backpack, my purse. I wish I had never seen a dead body in the gutter. I wish I never knew what it was like to fall asleep to helicopters outside your window. I wish I had never seen a man going through heroin withdrawl at a bus stop. I wish boys on bikes had never thrown trash at me while I was driving with the windows down. I wish I had never seen a hit and run crime scene. I wish I didn't live in Baltimore. 

I wish I didn't know 25% of Baltimoreans live below the poverty line. I wish I didn't know that almost 30% of students don't graduate high school. I wish I didn't know that the destruction caused to our city isn't much worse than how it was before. I wish I didn't know that the west side was never rebuilt from the last race riots in the 60's. I wish I didn't know that most people are too poor to afford housing where they aren't at risk for lead paint poisoning.  I wish I didn't live in Baltimore. 

If I didn't live in Baltimore, my life would be easy. I could turn off the news and sigh for a city I didn't have any connection to. I could say a quick prayer and go on my way. I would be able to think about, talk about, tweet about ANYTHING other than #Baltimore. I could shake my head and form my opinion and move on. 

If I didn't live in Baltimore, I would spend less time praying, have less of my heart broken, spend less time looking over my shoulder in fear, spend less money on homeless people.

If I didn't live here, I wouldn't know the charm of the neighborhoods, the people. My heart wouldn't beat in rhythm with the city. I wouldn't want to burst in joy when I'm pounding pavement. My heart wouldn't flutter when I hear someone talk about Baltimore.

I could live in a hip, trendy city that has it's S-WORD togehter. I would go to trendy coffee shops and go downtown at night on dates. I could invite other people to visit my city without having to fear for them not knowing what parts of town to avoid. 

If I didn't live in Baltimore, I wouldn't invite others to adventure downtown with me, in an effort to convince people that their city is AWESOME. I wouldn't have to hear the people who live here trash talk Baltimore and I wouldn't have to take it personally. I wouldn't have to live in fear of crime, gangs, riots. I wouldn't have to worry myself with solving the problem in my community. I wouldn't have to dream about making a difference in city schools. I would be less stressed, less upset and have more time. 


If I didn't live here, I wouldn't know that
Baltimore is a beautiful city, despite its flaw, rich in history, with a VIBRANT culture and people who are PROUD to be from here .

I wouldn't know that people here are TOUGH. I wouldn't know that life has been rough for most of them and I wouldn't know how badly the system has FAILED my neighbors. I wouldn't know that despite the struggles this city has endured for decades, people continue to CELEBRATE, LAUGH and FIGHT FOR THE GOOD. 

If I didn't live here, I couldn't tell you that the best view of the city is Federal Hill at dusk. I couldn't tell you that Peace and Cup of Joe on Pratt Street is the best coffee shop in the city. I couldn't tell you that Hon Fest in Hampden is the best fun you'll have in June. I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about Natty Boh, "dem O's" or Edgar Allan Poe. I wouldn't know why people yell during the National Anthem at baseball games. I couldn't describe the beauty of brightly colored townhouses with marble steps and window screen paintings. I would have no idea how to pick a crab or how to tell a good crab cake from a bad one. I wouldn't know what Berger cookies were. I wouldn't know what a bull roasts were or why people drive around with rat bumper stickers. 

If I didn't live in Baltimore, my life would be less colorful. 

My spirit would be less fierce.

I wouldn't know the beauty of beloning to such a unique and interesting community. 

I would have nothing to fight for. 

                                   Life would be easy. And an easy life is a boring life.