Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why I'll Never Leave

It seems that the halls of every high school flow with students driven to grow up and get out of town. Most of my classmates couldn't wait to get out of Salinas. Everyone wanted to leave home, but I never did.

Salinas is easy to hate. Gang violence runs rampant. We are surrounded by fields and fertilizer. Downtown sucks. The mall sucks. The bowling alley sucks. There's no glitter, no night life, no one to see or to be seen by. Anyone who could get out, did.

Honestly, I could have left too. My grades were great and I graduated with honors, yet I didn't even apply to a university. I knew my crystal ball would reveal the less than glamorous Hartnell Community College and then Cal State Monterey Bay. Why spend a small fortune on a degree when my greatest aspiration was to be a mother and wife? My classmates told me I was crazy, but I began digging in my roots anyway.

Seven years later I would say I'm as firmly planted as one can be and quite happy. Yet, even seven years later, I still hear people talking about how much they hate Salinas. Whether they've left or stayed, this is where their roots are and will always be. I think that by hating their roots they can't help be hating a little of themselves. I don't love this town just because I was born here, it's because so much of my life has happened here, and I've loved my life. Everyday on my morning run, as I drive kids to school or pick up groceries I'm reminded of a million moments in my life. Good or bad, they've made me who I am and I embrace them. Here are some of my favorites, and why I will never leave.

When I was 14 I ditched class with my boyfriend and behind Salinas High my foot balanced on this root as I tried not to fall, and tried to not let on that this was my first real kiss.

When I was 17, the night before prom, my new, older boyfriend was racing a friend and crashed into the corner of this bank. He was upset, I wanted to make it all ok. I felt like the supportive girlfriend and it made me want to someday be a supportive wife.

When I was 20 I stood before these doors about to marry the wrong man for even more wrong reasons. A few weeks later one of my best friend's clients told her about a bad day she had been having and then, while at a stop sign, she saw a bride in a flowing white dress about to walk through these big church doors, and it made her happy. I was the bride she had seen, and now when I drive passed these doors I think of her brightened spirits and not my foolish mistake. Everything depends upon perspective.

I'm not sure if trees and pavement and leaves can be comforting, but these ones are to me. I've never been able to capture on film how beautiful this street is, especially in the fall. The trees huddle over the road, the leaves blanket the sidewalks and it just feels safe and set apart. Late at night when my ex and I had had a fight I would drive down it, some times up and down several times, and it always made me feel better. It's no mistake that I've incorporated it into my morning runs, I begin each day remembering all I've overcome and feeling like everything will always ok.

I am a very forgetful person. Taking pictures, blogging, and scrapbooking are just a few things I do in my frantic attempt to preserve the life I appreciate so much. I would never want to lose these little moments and forget the meanings they have for me. There are a million more of these nestled all over this town, and maybe to some who hate their past this would be a daily torture, but I've loved every moment of my journey, and I love reliving it in little snippets every day. I'd never want to leave them behind, and that's why I'll never leave Salinas.


  1. I have a 'Loving Salinas' bumper sticker on my van, and I don't even live there!

    I remember the day before graduation, we were in 'The Pit' practicing, and each one of my closest friends was talking about leaving town. I was the only one with actual plans to do so (knowing I was leaving for Basic Training in 3 weeks), but I was also the only one who actually wanted to stay. I said to them, "What do you have against this place? This is everything we've ever known, all of our memories! Why would anyone want to throw that away to go somewhere unknown and uncertain." I'm pretty sure Jenette then jumped in and used my own feelings against me to beg me not to go to Basic training. I almost considered it for a minute. But, I knew staying in Salinas would have been hard I took the easy way out, and took the only way out for me. Having never come back, but for a week or two here and there, I still long for Salinas. And, it is sad to me to know that I will NEVER be able to plant roots there.

  2. Well put, once again Cori! It's so weird that you and I have so much in common, yet we never got that close in high school. Politics, I guess. Yesterday I was driving down University Ave. and I realized that everytime I pass the apartments across from University Park I look to see if there are any kids in the parking lot. I always fall back to the day when I was in 3rd grade, my brother in 6th and a big group of us ran over there to watch my brother fist-fight another 6th grader. You just can't replace that with anything else. I don't know what the future holds for me, but I wouldn't be that upset if it led me back to the Salinas area for good.