The Journey to San Francisco State

In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own

By D. K. Shelton

D.K. Shelton

When I was 16, I left my hometown, St. Paul, Minn., and signed up for a three-year, two-summer course on San Francisco State. It was the first time I’d ever lived away from home, and the fact that I’d signed up for something so far away, in the heart of the Bay Area, was a source of some stress.

I’d been home-schooled since kindergarten. I’d gone to high school and college in Minnesota, where I learned to work hard and stay out of trouble, not the other way around. So when I moved to Southern California, it seemed a natural transition to head to school in the heart of the Bay. There was something comforting about the sense of belonging I felt there. And while I’m not sure exactly what it is that makes life work out, I do know one thing: It makes life much easier when you know exactly where you belong. And my friends and I knew our home in St. Paul. Now, we were somewhere else — somewhere with a different culture, a different food, a different climate, and in a different school.

But as much as I loved my old high school, I loved San Francisco State with all my heart. It seemed like a wonderful world of possibilities and dreams. And, as any dreamer knows, one of the perks of a dream is the freedom to pursue it. So I signed my name and headed out for a three-year adventure all over the world.

But one big difference between home and away, my experience with San Francisco State was a big one. In one of the classes I was in, we spent a lot of time talking about the history of American cities and their “downtowns,” and how American cities have always struggled with a dichotomy between the needs of the people and the demands of the corporate city. For centuries, the country was more

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