I grew up in California. When people think of California, they immediately think of big cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. They think of the mountains and the beaches. It’s a state where you can literally go to the mountains for a hike and then to the beach on the same day, if you wanted. They see it like this because that is how the media portrays the state. In reality, it’s a farming state. All throughout the Central Valley, which is a huge section of the state, you will find nothing but farms. Because of that, the air quality here is crap. It is consistently smoggy and just horrible. Some might blame the cars, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. During my time in LA, I noted that there was WAY more traffic, but the air quality was so much better. The mountains are always so clear and it’s actually a lot easier to breathe. Most people who live in the valley are okay with the way things are. They were born here and spent their life living in this one place. They don’t know any different because when they do go somewhere, it’s only for a vacation that would last a week or less. That vacation is often going somewhere as a tourist, not really taking time to explore. Of course, this is really only a problem in America. In other countries, people are encouraged to go out and travel, explore the world. Here in America, we have the “American Dream” which is to get married, own a big house and and expensive car, work some stable but boring 9-to-5 job to support 2.5 kids. Even though this isn’t for everyone, we don’t really encourage anyone to do anything different, and that is really sad.
I have called the Fresno/Clovis area my home my entire life. Up until a few years ago, it did feel like home. Also, a lot has changed in the last few years. I can’t honestly say this corner of the world feels like home now. It hasn’t since my grandma was alive, which has been a good 2.5 years. When she was here and I lived with her, there was a sense of permanence and it felt safe. Everything after just feels so temporary. My mom’s house is the only place I can go and feel that permanence, but her neighborhood makes me feel unsafe. Lots of things about being there makes me feel unsafe. I currently live with my cousin and her husband and kids. I love it here, but at the same time, not even this place has the feeling that says “you are home, stay as long as you want,” even though I have lived here for a year now. There are times when I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, like I’ll be asked to go back to my mom’s.
Last week, when part of me was dreading coming back to Fresno, I was thinking of home. How that word just didn’t feel right when describing where I live and where I’m from. Don’t get me wrong! It has potential, with most of my family and a small handful of my friends also living here. The love I feel from people who constantly surround me helps a lot, and I appreciate it. I’ve just come to realize it’s not really enough now that I’m older.
In the last episode of Finding Carter (2.14), Carter says something that I really connect with. She is talking about dropping out of high school, arguing that school wasn’t for her, that she never learned anything while she was there. When she was out in the real world and doing things she enjoyed is when her skills finally came together. Interestingly, this is exactly how I felt when I was in LA, venturing out on my own for one thing or the other. When I am out, doing something I’ve never done before in a place I am unfamiliar with, suddenly all my senses just kick in and I actually know what I’m doing and it feels good… and I am happy. It’s an exciting life with exhilarating experiences. Full of feelings I have never felt before. I knew right then that home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling. An indescribable feeling. It’s the feeling I get when my curiosity about the world is being satisfied, or when I am completely lost in a place I’ve never been. It might not be home in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s the most at home feeling I have ever felt. My home is Planet Earth. Where I can go anywhere and do anything and not feel bored because I’m too busy learning about the things around me. It’s a feeling I wouldn’t trade for anything.