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Creative Nonfiction

The Golden City; on the final frontier of the west; where the land kisses the great expanse of the Pacific. Blanketed in shrouds of fog that creep up on this city’s skyline from the depths of the bay. With a totem of an almost luminescent, red, suspension bridge the city erupts from the fog, awakening its bustling inhabitants; this is San Francisco.

San Francisco, this urban kingdom, is fortified behind walls of skyscrapers and surrounded by its aptly named body of water. Cities are symbolic of fresh starts, careers, innovation, and jubilance. It is a magnet for people, far and wide, that exerts this alluring force making it seem like the place for dreams to come true. Cities are modern, cities are the future, and cities are the dominant environment on this planet. Some yearn for a chance to escape their small towns, outposts, and rural farms to journey to the urban kingdom. Their paths and desires intersect with the trajectory of the development of the human race. Then, there are those that feel a dissonance towards this trajectory but, it is still necessary for them to make the pilgrimage to a city. A way of life outside of an urban center is becoming more and more obsolete.

He was reluctant to leave but he had goals and he knew he could achieve them in the city. He had visited the city before and it wasn’t that he despised San Francisco by any means but, he also didn’t love it by any means either.

Information technology and software are the dominant force behind San Francisco’s security and trajectory. Lines of code accompanied by endless hours hunched over a computer screen will be the future of San Francisco’s citizens. But, others are drawn here for different careers, pursuits, and dreams. They don’t want to be caught in the web of the digital world. San Francisco has so much more to offer than software but, the unfortunate reality is that these other sectors are overlooked and stamped out by the dominance of this technological sector. San Francisco is a beautiful mosaic of culture, art, creativity, and persons. It is this magical urban kingdom that seems to phase in and out of existence with the ebb and flow of the fog banks. Some still see their potential for growth in San Francisco even though they want nothing more than to escape the maze of skyscrapers to the nearby mountains. They make a compromise because sometimes the opportunities are too good to pass on. 

He took his dream career in San Francisco. This was the only job he wanted to do and he wanted to master it. The job didn’t mean much to the world but, it was the world to him. 

Our protagonist is nothing special. He is an average young man. The only thing that differentiates him from the majority of San Franciscanites is that he is not in the conglomerate of the tech industry. He doesn’t spend his hours glued to the blue light emitting from a screen. He spends them creating and designing puzzles for others to test their mental and physical grit.

His roots were burrowed in a small farming town that few people lived in and even fewer people had heard of; a contrast to the realm of the cityscape. This town didn’t have much activity or for that matter actual infrastructure. But, this town did have the essentials, the simple basics, and he thought that was more than enough. It had a school district, a couple of restaurants, a grocer, and even a pastry shop. The town was poor from a city’s perspective but it was rich in ways that some urban people can never quite grasp; There is beauty in simplicity. Surrounded by forests, mountains, and lakes this town was the essence of a slower pace of life. The internet was spotty so more people could be found with a book than a tablet or laptop. Rather than being glued to a screen, most people were bouncing between mountain peaks and forests. The community was small, everyone knew everyone else. It was a family. This land had stolen his heart and he wanted to commit to the relationship. He knew he would be happy there; living a life based on the simpler things. But, he also had a passion. For the first time, he had found something that he was truly committed to. His small-town had options for his creative pursuits but he knew he had so much more opportunity to progress in San Francisco. Hidden in its veil of fog San Francisco awaited him with an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.

Opportunities present themselves to us and they are either taken or let go. The young man knew that he had to say yes to the prospect awaiting him in the heart of the city. His passion had grown past what his small-town could offer him. San Francisco a spider weaving a continuous web, slowly luring in the young man. Whether he realized it or not, eventually, the draw for his ambitions and career were inevitably intertwined and caught in the city’s reach. It pained him to leave behind his home. But, he was hopeful and excited for the opportunities for growth that awaited him in the city. He packed his bags, said his goodbyes, and made his way to the mecca to the Golden city of San Francisco.

It has been a little over a year since the young man began his career in the urban realm of San Francisco. He has grown far beyond his seedling roots and he can see so much potential ahead. His will is strong and his ambition is great for his creative goals. His career is taking off, he has found a new sense of community and family; they are just as motivated as he is in their professional, personal, and creative goals. On the surface, he appears happy and some days, the young man must even admit to himself that he is. When the work is going well and he is surrounded by his new family he is truly grateful to the city of San Francisco for presenting him this opportunity. He is living his dream and pursuing his goals. But, moving forward on his own path meant moving on from his roots. Although his journey is still in its infancy he has already gone above and beyond anything, he believed possible for himself. But, a journey of the self is not always smooth. In the back of the man’s mind, there was this ever-present and ever-growing pull. His home was calling him back: The scent of the pines wafted through the air and the mountains illuminated their peaks in the distance signaling to the man, inviting him home. The man was divided between these opposing worlds and some days it felt like he was being ripped in two. The man experienced San Francisco through the same pair of eyes but the filter on the lens was subservient to the world tugging harder.

The filter controlled by his goals, ambitions, and career showed the city as it was; an impressive architectural feat of humanity. San Francisco was a beautiful cultural melting pot brewing innovations and ideas down every alley and around every corner. The skyscrapers symbolized the future and the future looked bright as the golden gate bridge sliced through the fog and lifted the veil of the gloom. Work was good, he was learning every day, and getting closer to his goals and dreams with every step.

But then came the pull to his other world. His heart, his roots, his instincts; they depicted an entirely different scene. San Francisco became overwhelming: the pace endlessly quickened, the noise increasingly deafened, and the streets and alleys zigged and zagged in an infinite maze. Everywhere the man looked he saw an urban prison; an isolated, alien environment that felt overly manufactured and fake. The real world, the natural world, and his place of comfort were just outside the watchtowers of skyscrapers but, that world seemed intangible and the thought of escape became preposterous.

The man had grown up a lot over his year in San Francisco. He had grown and matured far more than he deemed possible as just a small-town boy in the mountains. San Francisco had evolved into a place he could call home. A place where he saw himself growing even more in his professional and personal pursuits. He was thankful for the opportunities the city offered him and excited for what opportunities could come next. The man’s internal divisions between his rural mountain home and the opportunistic cityscape are still present but he accepts them. He will always yearn for the open expanse of the mountains. It is where his roots lie and he has no desire to sever them. But, he loves San Francisco for the opportunities it has given him. He knows it is not a prison and he is not trapped and this makes him love San Francisco even more. Because the man now knows when he starts to grow to hate towards San Francisco he can always leave and return to his roots.

March 19, 2021 20:20

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1 comment

Cole Lane
02:00 Mar 25, 2021

I like the contrast between the tech presence that SF has, which can swallow up so many, and the creative community that survives and thrives. You describe (at least from the protagonist's view) the opportunities for the creative but the ability to return to his home enriched and satisfied. SF is just an extension of him for now, but not all of him. Really well written.


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