After writing this story triggered by a recent prostitution mural put up on Aurora in this week's paper, I got this email:

As someone that has lived in the designated "hotspot" (120th and 130th) for around the past 15 years, I must tell you that your article on prostitution really moved me. Before you pass this off as standard fare, let me tell you why, as a 25 year old male, the problems on Aurora Avenue deeply sadden me. I've lived on 128th and Ashworth since I was 9 years old. I'll spare you the long story of my upbringing but the short version is my mother had me at 17 in California, was in a series of physically abusive relationships, married a man in the coastguard, divorced him, started stripping to take care of me, met a middle class auto body repairman that she met while on her "job", married him, and we moved into a house on 128th and aurora a few years later.

The reason why this is an important part of the story is because we never had much, and I didn't really have the same opportunities as my friends that lived in Blue Ridge and Olympic Manner, so when we moved into the mid sized house 2 blocks from aurora, it was like we hit the lottery. They were so proud that they finally had a space to call their own. They would insist the area is safe and would get upset with me if I called it ghetto, so naturally, as a child I trusted my elders. As I got older my eyes started to open and it shocked me to see these young women, sometimes the same age As me, hopping in and out of cars with strange men in the parking lot of some seedy run down motel. It reached it's peak in the early 2000s (until recently with the addition of tent city and now a booming homeless population complete with registered sex offenders) when I'd see more and more women smoking heroin, pimps hitting women and men parking in front of my house on the dead end street to get their dick sucked.

It was upsetting because my parents didn't want to acknowledge it, and that's when I started to realize, the city doesn't really want to acknowledge it either..I live 5 minutes from the North Precinct but SPD can never seem to be bothered with the 45 year old man getting a blowjob from a 14 year old in front of my house or the bum that's so high on something he's passed out in he middle of my street and looks dead..sometimes they take 2 hours to show up...othertimes not at all..but they're always there to give me dirty looks and harass me just for being around my neighborhood..Its always been the bad joke like "hey lets pick up some girls on Aurora" but its not funny when its your reality and you see it every day..i started to rebel and write graffiti, and only started seeing how even more fucked up it is at 3am..noticing the signs that tell you how your liscense plates are being recorded. I guess what I'm getting as is that, as a woman you're objectified as a piece of meat for sale, but as a man, I'm objectified as a creepy guy looking for pussy because I accidentally made eye contact. ...

And as a young man that came from turmoil with the single parent stripper Mom, I look at these women and have this deep sadness within my gut. That is somebodies daughter, somebodies Mother, somebody that someone out there cares about. I can't really describe the sick to my stomach feeling I get as someone who's lived here for this long and have seen what I've seen. ... It's easy for some schmuck that works the counter at blue video to pass these women off as trash clogging his walkway, it's alot harder for someone who has seen so many young faces come and go, the same faces every day, every night, and wonder if they're okay.

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