The Free Island of San Francisco (excerpt)


"I am a citizen, thirteen years old.  I am endowed by someone or something with certain unalienable rights.  I am not the property of the state, I’m not my parents’ slave, and no one will arrest me for writing these words.  But I can’t vote, and so I refuse to call myself a full citizen.  Every teenager in the United States of America is in this boat.  But I don’t live in the United States of America.  I’m in a boat for real.  I live on the Free Island of San Francisco, cut off from the country it used to belong to.  These two “bridges” to the north and east are either ruins or abstract sculpture (depending on how claustrophobic you’re feeling on this island or how drunk you are when you look at them), and south of us lies a shallow, swampy strait that used to be land.  We citizens of San Francisco, full and partial, are sometimes hungry, often boozed up, dazed, and hopeless,  but we all expect to have a voice in what’s left of society.  Even those of us who haven’t had our first period yet."