When I told my Mum four years ago, that I would move to San Francisco, she wasn’t exactly thrilled. She didn’t like the fact that I would be living pretty much on the other side of this roundish planet of ours and to her, living in the United States sounded very foreign and dangerous. She pictured me in the epicenter of a major earthquake, a car accident on a 10-lane highway or being victim in a gun fight. Well obviously nothing like that happened, since the anticipated ‘Big One’ hasn’t shaken California yet, I don’t drive much and I haven’t even seen a gun on anyone yet.
However, maybe I should look more carefully. In the past few weeks there have been several shootings in our neighborhood. And by neighborhood I mean very close to home: opposite the street vendor where we buy fruit and veg, the street I walk home from dance class, the bus I take to get to the Filmore. The most recent incident has been last Monday, in the (admittedly slightly dodgy) bar next to my favorite taqueria. At 11pm twenty (!!) shots were fired in the bar and five people were injured. In no time police cars and ambulances blocked off 16th street. The suspects fled, there were no arrests.
In a timely matter (but probably as an response to the tragic shootings in Alabama and Arizona) UC Berkeley offered a training session on campus called ’Tools for Surviving an Active Shooter’. Thanks to my colleague who attended, I now know that a pistol could hold up to thirty-three bullets. Note to self: don’t count bullets and tackle a shooter to the ground after six shots, he probably doesn’t need to re-load just yet.
I never even thought about the possibility that anyone around me might carry a gun. With the frequency of incidents going up, I am more attentive to my surroundings. I stop drowning the world in happy tunes coming from my i-pod. I take off the headphones and open my eyes to what goes on around me.
No one I know got hurt, that feeling of unease will fade, the sun will be out again, and the Mission will return to it’s beautiful self.
But for now I’m glad my Mum doesn’t use the Internet and is therefore unaware of the local San Francisco news.
Photo 1 (signs): Sony DSLR alpha 350, Shoes on wires are everywhere in the Mission. Not 100% sure what it means, one explanation: drugdealer is in da house.
Photo 2 (gloomy mission): yet another double exposure with my Holga camera on 120 film.