Back to Fresno County, Kicking and Screaming
The first time I lived in Fresno County, I was four years old. I lived in a three-bedroom house with my grandparents, my mom, and my younger brother while my dad was stationed elsewhere, in a town so small in 1993 it didn’t even have a high school. I shared a room with my mom and my brother and sometimes slept on the floor; we were waiting for our house to be built in a town a half an hour away. Back then, houses here didn’t cost nearly as much as they do now. When we moved away to Arizona when I was nine, I was heartbroken. But as I got older, I never imagined myself living here again and certainly not under the circumstances that forced my relocation. In my mind, Fresno was too small, too underdeveloped, and too foreign for me to feel in the least bit like I could ever belong after living abroad in cities with millions of residents. I even missed the Fresno State University application date on purpose my senior year. If I was going to go back, it would be kicking and screaming. Well, that was not the case. Although there was quite a lot of crying involved. When my marriage fell apart in 2014, I needed somewhere safe to go and start over - and that somewhere was with my family in Clovis.
The transition wasn’t easy and there are times now when I find living here to be difficult. I had been gone from Fresno County for sixteen years and away from my nuclear family for seven. That’s a lot of time to pass and suddenly drop back into the lives of your relatives. I felt like a stranger. Everyone around me had their circles of friends established long before I arrived. My mom tends to liken Fresno to a city with a small town feel - and sometimes, small towns are not as welcoming at American films and television shows make them appear to be. At least not in my own personal experience.
So, I decided this was all only temporary. Eventually, I would be moving to Los Angeles and there was no point in me even trying to get close to anyone and there was certainly no point in me attempting to date anyone. I literally told a friend that was visiting from Ohio that bit about the dating when he encouraged me to put myself out there. No thanks. Plus, I was working too damn much to be able to do that anyway so, oh well.
As you might have guessed, all that working and all that intentional disconnect made me miserable. I wasn’t living in the moment because I was constantly thinking:
I’ll be happy when I’m in Los Angeles.
I'll be happy when I'm making movies and television shows.
I'll be happy when I'm in a big city like the ones I'm used to again.
I'll be happy when I live in a community that has more culture and diversity.
I'll be happy when I live in a place where I feel like I don't stick out like a sore thumb.
I'll be happy when I don't live here anymore.
I even had a breakdown I’ve talked about a little on my Instagram shortly after my 27th birthday at my grandmother’s house, telling her all the things I didn’t have, hadn’t achieved, and how miserable I was. If you're familiar with Law of Attraction, I was focusing on lack but she was able to snap me out of it.
And then I got a better job. It was a bit of drive but I saw an increase in pay, I got my weekends back, and I got to work with some pretty phenomenal kids (I use this term loosely). One evening shortly after coming onboard, I was playing some music from my phone and one of my students asked who the artist was. When I explained that the singer was raised in the area, the vocalized disbelief caught me off-guard: “No way! Something good came out of Fresno?” They didn’t believe anything worth taking notice of could be tied to where they were from - and this seriously bothered me because, in that belief, they essentially doubted their own “worthiness” of being “noteworthy”. I realized this bothered me because I had been in their shoes before and experienced what it was like to have someone change that limiting belief within me. I knew in that moment that I wanted to invoke that same shift in someone’s life, be that one of the kids that was standing before me or someone I may never actually meet face to face.
Without the kicking and screaming.
I am not where I would like to be in my career yet.
I am not where I would like to be in my education yet.
I am not a professional screenwriter or professional author yet.
But the operative word in those statements is “yet”. And I have decided to be happy as I possibly can tied to Fresno County until and after I am able to scratch off that three-letter word from the end of each of those sentences in the hope of removing that same doubt of possibility from the minds of individuals like myself and those kids because if we can learn anything from the recent fights toward diversity in multiple industries, it is that being able to recognize someone from your ethnic background or your local community succeeding in their chosen field is that it impacts that ethnic community or that community on the whole.
Did you ever struggle to love where you were? What did you do to change it and how did that impact your life? Let me know in the comments!