31 Days of Fresno is starting on Friday, but I'm having a hard time waiting. I thought I'd do a little backstory before I jump in with all of the Fresno lovin'.
I'm a native Fresnan. I grew up close to Roosevelt high school, and moved out to Central Unified in junior high. In high school all I could think of was moving out, somewhere more glamorous so I could become rich and famous and the next Lady Gaga, except we're going back in time, so I guess it would be the first Lady Gaga. Even when, in mid high school, I shifted from wanting to be an actress or even just a celebrity (because lets face it, the drive was there, the talent was elsewhere) to maybe a poet or journalist I was still angling to get the hell out and never look back.
So I got out, I went to Chapman University in Orange, CA. It was great at first, and Orange has an Old Town Clovis feel to it, so I wasn't entirely in a strange place. I was met with the standard OC response of "Oh, I'm so sorry" whenever I told people where I came from, but I just kind of laughed it off and said whatever, its home! A few friends even called me Fresnaw as a nickname.
After my first year and a half, I started really missing home. I'd drive home weekly with the excuse of wanting to do my laundry, but everyone knew I just missed home. I followed the LJFresno community on Livejournal and I wished I had known about all of the fun, creative things happening in my hometown before I had left. By the end of my 4th semester I was ready to move home.
Since then, I've fallen absolutely in love with Fresno. The food, the way that creativity is encouraged and applauded, the old buildings downtown, new music, and the sense of belonging to a community all have held me here. I still get surprised when I hear someone badmouthing Fresno, especially a Fresnan. In my opinion, home is what you make of it. Regardless of where "home" may be, if you can't think of at least 31 reasons why you would make it your place, maybe it is time to either seek out reasons to love where you live, or live somewhere else. I hesitate to say live somewhere else, though. If you can't find a single good thing about a place culturally diverse and rich in the arts, and filled to the brim with good people who are actively trying to overcome the major issues we face with poverty, gangs, education and drugs, who is to say that you'll like anything about your next city? We've got problems, but we've also got heart.
I'm a Fresnoptimist- I see the issues we have as a city- our image being the least of those- as somewhere to get started. No great city ever became great without the community stepping up to the challenges at hand, finding solutions and making sure they were followed through on. I hope that throughout the 31 days of Fresno everyone who participates will not only grow their appreciation for their hometown, but they'll also begin to explain to out of town friends and relatives why Fresno is worth sticking up for. People who even moderately tolerate Fresno are encouraged to participate, it would do them good to think long and hard about the things that make Fresno special.
Okay, its late and the cold meds I've taken are definitely starting to kick in, so before I go all apeshitcarebears on everyone about how Fresno is the happiest place on Earth, I probably should end it here. Stay tuned, I'll be getting this big old ball of Fresno devotion rolling on January first!
In the Kitchen with the Stanfill Family
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