How to return to your hometown—and give back—after more than 20 years away

by Olga Rosales Salinas


Anytime I’m in a grocery store, at a bakery, or in a restaurant and I come across strawberries, I think about my hometown. Watsonville, CA looks like old pickups on the side of the road packed with berries and smells like fields and fields of apples. However, fresh produce isn’t the only thing that reminds me of home. I left when I was seventeen, leaving behind an anxiety-ridden childhood marked by the loss of my father, my mother’s depression, and my inability to make sense of either. Then, there were the shared traumatic experiences between peers; things like gang violence, alcoholic parenting, and general physical and emotional abuse. Whenever the topic of immigration comes up, I’m immediately five years old again, worried about my parents’ legalization in a country that denies it to some. Home has always been a mixed bag.

When I landed in San Francisco after leaving the farming community that raised me, I took a big exhale. The type of anonymity that a big city provides was what I needed at the time. Now? I understand intellectually why I left my hometown, but my heart never left the Mesa Verde neighborhood at the end of Green Valley Road in Watsonville, CA.


Read the whole article at Jumble & Flow.