Exit 207. I thought about the situation from many different angles.

I bought a new car last week.

I’ve mentioned it to a few people close to me, and some of those have actually seen it and ridden in it.  And, in fact, while I was waiting for the paperwork to be ready for me, I was thinking about how I would announce it on Facebook and Instagram, what I would say about it, how much I would divulge about the decision process… and I eventually made a bold decision.

I decided I wouldn’t announce it at all.

A few reasons.

(1) It is possible to live your life and not announce everything on social media.  That’s what we all did until about 2007.  Gender reveal parties, cute little professional photos asking someone to be your prom date or bridesmaid, selfies every thirteen seconds, none of that existed until very recently.  Shocking, I know.

(2) More importantly, it’s really not anyone’s business, especially not people who are going to criticize my decision.  I just didn’t feel like opening myself up to that kind of criticism.

I know some people who are fierce devotees of the kind of financial experts who make a living telling people how to get out of debt and save money.  Dave Ramsey in particular comes to mind, although I’m sure there are other financial experts who do this as well.  Before I continue, I should say that if you are reading this, and you are a follower of Mr. Ramsey or any other well-known financial expert, good for you.  I haven’t studied his works, so I might be mischaracterizing some of what I say here.  I’m sure he and others in his business give a lot of good advice, and if that works for you, if you are making progress toward getting out of debt and getting your finances in order, that’s great.

But I am not you.  Everyone’s situation is different, and while some things are just generally good advice, not everyone can, or should, or will follow all of the same principles exactly.  Some time ago, the church I was attending was hosting Financial Peace University, a Christian-based class on finances using curriculum developed by Dave Ramsey.  I remember someone was telling me how I should sign up, it’ll be really good for my future financial planning, there’s a lot I’ll learn, and it’s only $100.  My first thought was, thanks but no thanks, I’m doing okay financially right now.  And I certainly didn’t get where I am by blowing $100 to learn things that everyone learns about in math class… or at least they would if they didn’t waste so much time hating math class.

Now, that is an oversimplification, of course.  There are other subjects covered in the Financial Peace curriculum, and I’m sure I would have some things to learn.  But most of the people I knew who had taken this class were talking about paying off their credit card debt.  I have no credit card debt.  I don’t run up a balance big enough that I can’t pay it off when the next monthly bill comes.  I don’t have that mentality that if I have money in the bank, I have to spend it, or the mentality that I can keep sliding the card and not worry about it until later.  And that right there is already the most important step in getting one’s finances under control, the way I see it.

I have my reasons for buying a new car instead of buying a less expensive gently used car.  And I have my reasons for financing the majority of it rather than paying it off all at once, a big part of which included the fact that it was a holiday week and they were offering 0% financing.  I sat down and thought about the situation from many different angles before I made my decision.  And that, really, is how one should approach major decisions.  This is how learning and thinking works, rather than regurgitating something that an expert said that may be totally out of context for the particular decision at hand.

If you know me personally and have questions, thoughts, or comments, I might be willing to discuss this a little more specifically.

And again, for those of you who are applying Dave Ramsey’s principles to your own lives, like I said, good for you.  But please, use those to think about situations from multiple angles and make a decision, rather than just assuming that he’s right all the time.

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Exit 206. The math did not accurately model my digestive system.

My brother has taken up a new hobby: food challenges.  He looks up restaurants that offer some sort of challenge, usually something along the lines of if you eat this ridiculous amount of food within a certain limited time, the meal is free and you get your picture on the wall (and sometimes something else like a free t-shirt).

Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining him for one of these challenges, at Pizza Plus in Reno, Nevada.  Their challenge requires two people, and I live just about halfway between him and Reno, and I can eat a ton of pizza, so it worked out perfectly for him.  He drove up to my house late Friday night and slept here.  We left my house Saturday morning around 8:30 and got to Reno at 11, right when they opened.  The drive from Sacramento to Reno over Donner Pass (yes, as in those Donners) is beautiful, going through high mountain forests.  There is no snow this time of year to delay the drive, and most of the people making weekend trips up to the mountains left Friday afternoon to come home on Sunday, so we missed all the possible sources of traffic for this drive.  And the pizza was really good.  Pizza Plus has four locations in Reno and Sparks, and if I’m ever up that way looking for a place to eat again, I’d go back if I’m in the mood for pizza.  (And they’re not paying me to say this.)

The challenge was for two people to eat a 24-inch combination pizza in an hour.  In the days leading up to this trip, I was getting nervous, doubting my ability to eat that much pizza that quickly.  But then I did some math.  I know from experience that I can eat a 12-inch pizza and not feel completely full.  A 24-inch pizza is four times as much pizza as a 12-inch pizza (four times because it is twice as long and twice as wide).  So if my brother and I split it evenly, I would have to eat two 12-inch pizzas.  If I can eat one and not feel stuffed, surely I can eat two.

But the math did not accurately model my digestive system.  We did not complete the challenge.

We started out well.  When time was half up, we had eaten a little more than half the pizza.  We were pacing ourselves just fine.  But I definitely slowed down as time went on.  With five minutes left, we still had three slices remaining (out of 16).  We both knew that we weren’t going to be able to eat all of that in five minutes, so we just accepted defeat and took the leftovers home.  I think my problem is that I hit the wall quickly when it comes to eating.  I go from not full at all to completely stuffed relatively quickly with little warning.

I feel bad that we didn’t win; I thought for sure I could do this.  And I feel bad for letting my brother down, even though he told me not to worry about it.  But it was a good experience.  It was a good day trip to get away for a while, good scenery, good time talking about basketball and music in the car, and it was really good pizza.  And even though it was fun, I’m not so sure that food challenges are something I’m going to keep doing in the future.  And that’s okay.  It was an experience.

Exit 205. Here is what needs to happen.

This month, a ballot initiative to divide California into three states qualified to be on the November ballot.  One state (still called California) would include the Central Coast and Los Angeles; a new state of Northern California would include the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and everything to the north; and a new state of Southern California would include Fresno, Bakersfield, the southern Sierra Nevada, the rural area east of the Sierras, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego.

As I’ve said before (here, here, here) I have mixed feelings these days about my home state.  And on the surface, this three state plan doesn’t look like a very good idea.  Looking at voter trends and recent elections, we would be replacing one liberal state with two liberal states and a swing state that has been trending more liberal recently (with Southern California being the swing state).  It also seems like some of the regions that would be in the same state after this split have little in common.  This plan puts Salinas and Los Angeles in the same state, Fresno and San Diego in the same state, and San Francisco and Redding in the same state.

It should also be noted that any plan to create a new state would also have to be approved by the federal Congress.  Also, the Constitution says that no new state can be formed within the boundaries of an existing state without the approval of that state’s legislature, and some have questioned whether a ballot initiative approved by the voters counts as approval by the state legislature.  Ballot initiatives did not exist in 1787 when the Constitution was written, and this kind of thing has never happened before.  If I remember right, only two states have ever been created from territory already part of existing states: Maine, in the 1820s, whose statehood was part of an extensive compromise to kick the question of slavery down the road; and West Virginia, created during the very unique and extreme situation of the Civil War, by Union loyalists in the mountains after Virginia left the Union.

There has been a movement off and on dating to the 1940s to create a new State of Jefferson in far northern California; historically, the movement also included parts of rural southern Oregon, although the more recent Jefferson movements are much more active in California than in Oregon.  I would support a State of Jefferson, and if it happened I would seriously consider moving there.  The rural parts of far northern California have a very different culture than the rest of California, and the rest of California pretty much only wants them because they have water.  But this current plan is not Jefferson.  This current plan lumps Jefferson into the same state as the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Jefferson conservative voices will be drown out by liberals, just as they are now.

Here is what needs to happen: some kind of convention where delegates from all over the state sit down and spend a minimum of several days, probably more, hashing out very specific details of how to split the state. How many new states? What are the new boundaries? How would the water be divided up? Would any of the new states be entitled to any water stored in reservoirs in a different new state? Would any existing counties be split, or would county lines stay the same such that each county only ends up in one new state? Would any state parks need to be split? Would any of the new states owe each other money for any of the infrastructure that is or isn’t in their new state? Would there be a grace period under which residents of pre-split California will get in-state tuition at all of the public universities that existed in pre-split California, whether or not they end up in the same state after the split?  (I haven’t read the text of the proposed plan, so I don’t know how many of these details have been spelled out explicitly at this point.)

Before any plan goes to the voters, or to Congress, all of these details need to be worked out. And everyone needs to realize that no new state or subculture is going to get everything they want. It will take some give and take among all parties involved, just like the drafting of the United States Constitution did. This won’t be perfect, but if something like this does happen, it is the best way to end up with something that will be somewhat better than what we have now.

I don’t have a lot of faith that this will happen, though. The kind of people who are in power in California don’t want to do anything to give up that power.  And, let’s be honest, the different subcultures within California really don’t like or respect each other, so they aren’t likely to want to make any compromises or concessions.  The liberal populated areas of California kind of hold all the cards here.  If you were to tell someone from, say, San Francisco that there is a people group who are not represented in their government, and that their government oppresses them and steals their natural resources, the San Franciscan would most likely be on the side of increased autonomy for that people group.  But then when they find out that this people group is gun-carrying conservatives from Jefferson, all of a sudden the San Franciscan may say that they don’t deserve autonomy, because they need enlightened liberal San Franciscans to force them out of their backward ways.  The only substantial thing Jefferson really has is water, and since the dams and canals were built by California, Jefferson can’t really cut off Los Angeles from taking their water without starting a violent conflict.  I really don’t want it to come to that.

The big question for me, however, is do I vote for this three state plan?  It isn’t perfect, I don’t know that I’d even call it good, but is it better than the mess we have now?  I really don’t know.  It’s something I’ll be thinking about.  And I’ll have to at least skim the text of the proposal.

Exit 204. I’m sitting on a train from Sacramento to San Jose right now with no idea what to write.

I’m sitting on a train from Sacramento to San Jose right now with no idea what to write.

Someone I know just got on the train in Davis.  I would say that that was unexpected, but maybe it’s not.  Since June of 2017, I have made three round trips on Amtrak, and twice someone else I know ended up on the same train as me.  Maybe it’s just that I know a lot of people.

The Wi-Fi on the train is actually working today.

I made a list of goals for the summer, as I said I would do last week.  I haven’t made much progress on it, but that’s okay, because I have plenty of time.  I did make small dents in the total number of miles I want to run and bike before I go back to work,   I thought about doing one of my bigger goals (go to a Giants game) last week, but I backed out at the last minute on the grounds that I was better off taking some down time, starting my Teacher Summer with a week and a half of dead time, then going to visit my family (hence today’s train ride, which will be followed by a bus ride from San Jose to Salinas), then tackling my big adventures after that.  But after watching the game I didn’t go to from home, I wish I had gone, because the Giants came back from a two run deficit in the 9th inning to force extra innings and win in the 10th.

The aforementioned dead time was just the right balance of fun, relaxing, and productive.  And now I get four days with my parents, not having to worry about things like making dinner every night.

I left a pile of dirty dishes in the sink at home.  Probably not the best idea.  I hope I don’t come home to a big stinky mess.  I was going to put them in the dishwasher before I left, but there were still clean dishes in the dishwasher from yesterday.  And I literally didn’t have time to put the clean dishes away, because I had a train to catch.  Oh well.  It’s not the end of the world.

I’m now somewhere in the marshlands between Suisun and Martinez, and I still have no idea what to write about.  So I guess this is it.  This is your post for the week.  Have a great week, everyone.

Exit 203. I need to sit down and write out a list of goals.

It’s summer.  Well, not technically.  From the astronomical perspective, summer begins on June 21 at 10:07 UTC (which would be 3:07am here in my time zone in California).  But the school year is over for me, so it’s Teacher Summer.

Every year, around this time, friends ask me what my plans are for the summer.  Every year, I say something like just sit around and relax.  And every year, when school is ready to start again, I feel unaccomplished, like there was so much more I wanted to do before the school year starts.

At some point in the next few days, I need to sit down and write out a list of goals for the summer.  I don’t want to try to take on too much, but I also should include a few goals that are a little ambitious, or at least out of my comfort zone.  If I actually write these down or make some kind of formal statement that these are my goals, then I am more likely to actually accomplish them, or at least put more effort into attempting to do so.  I say this every year at the start of summer, and every year around New Year’s Day-ish, but then I rarely do.

I have before, and writing goals down has actually motivated me to do them in the past.  I was about to tell a story about a time when I made a goal for myself that was quite far out of my comfort zone, but I actually did it.  However, I then discovered that I’ve told this story before on here a long time ago, and alluded to it on multiple occasions.  For that matter, I’ve had several other posts like this where I say I need to make some goals… and then I don’t.

So, friends, start bugging me about this.  Remind me to come up with a list of goals.  I don’t know yet if I can promise that I’ll share them on here.  If I know you well, I may be willing to share them privately with you.  But the important thing is that this needs to get done.  So keep reminding me.

Exit 202. I’ve been debating all weekend whether or not to write this.

I’ve been debating all weekend whether or not to write this.  I’ve said at times that part of the reason I feel so out of place everywhere is that I often feel like I don’t fit neatly into categories and boxes, and the culture is so divided and polarized these days that I end up feeling rejected from both sides.

An example of this that has been in the news lately is the recent decision by the National Football League to require all players on the field during the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner (the national anthem of the USA) to stand.  For those of you who don’t follow the NFL, or those of you reading in other countries, the very abbreviated back story is this: It has been customary to stand during the performance of this song for as long as I can remember, but in the last few years a number of players have been sitting or kneeling, with many of them saying that it is a protest about police brutality and the mistreatment of African-Americans.  Most people fall into one of two camps regarding this issue: “Yay America!  Everyone should stand!” or “Boo America, forcing people to stand is what dictatorships do, and the protesters are right!”

I think that protesting in this way is indeed disrespectful.  As we remember on this holiday weekend, people have died for the ideals that this flag and song stand for.  We have it so much better in this country than much of the world.  Many of us still believe in the ideals that founded this country.  And I also believe that the NFL is within their rights as a private corporation to require its players to stand for the national anthem.  It is comparable to having a dress code at a place of business.

But, that said, I don’t agree with this decision.  Respect is earned, not forced, and while a corporation does indeed have the right to impose rules of conduct on its employees, doing so also infringes on the concept of freedom of speech, one of the ideals that the flag stands for.  In the 1980s, the Supreme Court ruled in a controversial case that burning the flag in protest is free speech and cannot be punished in and of itself.  Although burning the flag extremely disrespectful, I agree with this decision.  Forcing someone to show love for their country is not love at all.  The NFL did say that players who don’t want to stand for the national anthem can stay in the locker room if they wish to, but that still sends the message that their protest isn’t wanted.  And I don’t believe that the NFL owners and leaders really care whether or not players love their country.  They saw that fans who love their country were upset about the players not standing for the national anthem, and less support from fans hurts their bottom line.  This had more to do with money than patriotism.

So am I going to watch NFL games this fall?  Does the fact that my team’s owner abstained from this vote, since the attention on these protests began with that team?  I don’t know.  I haven’t decided yet.  Should I care about any of this?  I don’t know.  Maybe the more important thing is for both sides to listen to why the other side is upset.  Maybe we really need to work on making this country a place that people love again, but without sacrificing the values and ideals that shaped this country.

Exit 201. Bullet points and thoughts about the weekend.

I missed last week.  Sorry.

And I’m not sure what to write about this week.

But I had a great weekend.  So I’ll just share some bullet points and thoughts about the weekend.

Friday night, a friend went out for sushi and issued an open invitation.  Three of us plus her showed up.  My mom noticed that my friend had tagged me in a Facebook post and said that she didn’t know I liked sushi.  I don’t know when I tried sushi for the first time, but it was definitely in adulthood.  I probably would have thought the idea of sushi was disgusting as a kid, but it’s good to try new things, because sometimes you like them.

Saturday morning, I played Pokemon Go and helped some friends move.  I watched exactly none of the royal wedding.

Saturday night, I had people over for another one of my retro gaming parties.  It was a small crowd, only 10 of us, but we had fun.  Sometimes a small crowd is a good thing.  I feel more connected to everyone.

This morning, I went to my old church in Davis, because the youth pastor, under whom I volunteered in my early 20s, is leaving the church staff and changing careers after having been there for over two decades.  They had a reception for him after the service.  It was heartwarming and uplifting to hear so many stories about his work in youth ministry.  I shared about how, in addition to having such a heart for the young people of the community, he invested in the lives of the volunteer leaders the same way.  It was also inspiring for me to be greeted by so many old friends who are still at that church, and some who came just for that event as I did, almost 17 years after I moved away.

Then I came home and took a long nap, so I hope I’m able to fall asleep tonight.  If I’m not, I have plenty of cleaning to do to tire me out.

How were all of your weekends?

Exit 200. Emotional clutter.

As I said recently, I have been wondering again whether or not it is time to cut my losses and start over somewhere else other than California.  This is a very difficult decision, and I have a lot to lose if I don’t make the right decision.  It isn’t as simple as, say, getting groceries from a different store or taking your money to another bank.  Those decisions can be reversed with relative ease compared to leaving a job I love and the only state I’ve really known as home.

I’m not here to announce a conclusive decision.  But in thinking and praying about this over the last few weeks; I have come to one important conclusion: My life is too cluttered, both physically and emotionally.

Physical clutter is easy to identify and remove. Put stuff away when I’m done with it.  Make a place to put things away instead of just tossing them on a table.  Throw away or donate things I don’t need that take up space.  Although physical clutter is easy to identify, it is very time consuming to deal with completely, but this is something I can work on over time.

Emotional clutter is a bit more complicated.  When I say emotional clutter, I mean things that are clouding my head and my moods and feelings that don’t need to be there.  Emotional clutter takes a variety of forms.  All the hundreds of people who I follow on social media just because we were acquaintances briefly in the recent past, despite the fact that they are not the kind of people I would normally be friends with, are emotional clutter.  Situations in which I put myself and stress myself out about, despite the fact that these situations are not enjoyable to me, that is emotional clutter.  Pages and blogs that I follow because I used to know the author, but which cover topics that are of no interest to me, those are emotional clutter.

I have been spending time the last couple weeks fiddling with my Facebook settings, making some tough decisions about who can see my posts and whose posts I see.  I have also been thinking a bit about how, and with whom, I spend my time, and if I need to cut certain activities and places out of my life.  These aren’t easy decisions.  Cutting people out of my life isn’t in my nature.  I spent too much of my childhood and young adult years being lonely and not having many friends, and it hurts me to think of friendship as expendable.

A few months ago, I wrote (part 1, part 2) about having unfriended five people on Facebook in one day, something I don’t believe I had ever done before.  One of these people was SN1604, the girl I dated off and on in 2015.  I made this decision on the grounds that, even though there was a time when SN1604 and I were very close, and there were times that it was looking like we would stay good friends despite our history, her more recent behavior has shown that it was not realistic for me to hope that things would ever be like that again.  The few times we did communicate in 2017, for example, all started with me hoping that maybe we would be close again, and ended a few minutes later with her not replying to a message in a conversation she technically started.  I never see her in person anymore, and keeping her in my life on social media was just causing more disappointment and pain.

I am realizing that I can, and should, apply the SN1604 Doctrine in other areas of life.  Maybe some of the activities that I enjoy aren’t worth it, because the other people involved with those activities are not the kind of people I want to be friends with.  Maybe some people I’ve known for decades aren’t worth staying in touch with, because all they want to do is spew hateful political rhetoric.  These are tough decisions, though, because there are things I enjoy about these activities themselves, and some of the people spewing hateful political rhetoric were a big part of my life at one point.  I don’t know.  But at least I’m asking the right questions now.

Exit 199. Oh yes, we’ll keep on trying.

I have a lot of thoughts swimming around in my brain right now, and I’m not sure how much of it I’m ready to share at this point.  So instead, this week I’ll skip all that and write about one of my other recurring themes on this site: rediscovering a great song from an earlier time in my life.  This time the song is “Innuendo” by Queen.

Queen was a British band active from the early 1970s to the early 1990s.  I did not grow up listening to Queen.  I was vaguely aware that there was a band called Queen, and my earliest memories of hearing music on the radio as a preschooler include a song called Another One Bites The Dust, but I don’t think I connected the name Queen to that song until I started actually listening to Queen in my mid-teens.  Much of Queen’s later work was far more popular in Europe than in the USA, for a variety of reasons, so they were absent from the music that was around me in elementary school and my early teens.

Queen experienced a resurgence of popularity in the USA in the winter of 1991-92, for two reasons: lead singer Freddie Mercury’s death, and the release of the movie Wayne’s World, which featured a scene where the main characters drive around singing along to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  I was watching MTV a lot at the time, I was 15, and the channel often aired both tributes to the recently deceased Freddie Mercury and a remixed music video of Bohemian Rhapsody, combining scenes from Wayne’s World with scenes from the original 1975 music video.  Queen was one of the first bands I got into whose heyday was before my time.

Despite this, however, my knowledge of Queen does not extend deep into their catalog, beyond their two greatest hits albums and the 2005 live CD from the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour.  (In this century, after Freddie Mercury’s death, two of the original members of Queen, guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor, have done tours performing Queen songs with other lead singers, but they have billed themselves as “Queen + [whoever is on vocals]” rather than just Queen.)  Innuendo, the song I posted above, was on the album of the same name, the last released in Mercury’s lifetime, but not on the US version of either of the two greatest hits albums.  Until a few weeks ago, I had heard the song exactly once.  I was in the car at some point in late high school; by that time I knew enough Queen music to recognize Freddie’s voice, but this was not a song I had heard before.  A few weeks ago, I was looking up something about Queen on Wikipedia (who knows why, it’s me and it’s Wikipedia, that’s enough of a reason), and I came upon a mention of the song Innuendo, and I thought, that’s that song I remember hearing once, the one that goes “yeah, we’ll keep on fighting.”  I should go listen to it, because it’s 2018 and you can find stuff like that on the Internet.  So I did.  (And I was wrong; the song contains the lines “we’ll keep on trying,” and “we’ll keep on smiling,” but no “we’ll keep on fighting.”  It is definitely the song I was thinking of, though.)

Freddie Mercury died of AIDS-related complications less than a year after this song was released.  Rumors had long circulated about Freddie having been in sexual relationships with men, and when some noticed his health declining, rumors had circulated about his having contracted AIDS.  But Freddie never said anything public about either of these topics until days before his death.  By the time Innuendo was recorded, the band knew that Freddie was dying.

And this is a really deep song, full of great quotes that can be interpreted as wisdom from one nearing the end of his life to pass on to the next generation, the kind of wisdom I need to hear these days.

While [all this variety of bad stuff happens in the world]… oh yes, we’ll keep on trying.

You can be anything you want to be.

Be free.

And whatever will be will be, till the end of time.

Thank you, Internet, for helping me unpack this song that’s been stuck in a corner of my brain for the last quarter-century.

Exit 198. It’s okay to have two hometowns.

I was born in Salinas.  Salinas is a medium-sized city in central California, by which I mean it is considered small by California standards, but if it were located in Wyoming or West Virginia, it would be the largest city in the state.  It is located 100 miles south of San Francisco and one row of hills inland from the Monterey Bay, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean.  I lived there until I was 18, the day I moved away to begin my university education, in the same house where my parents live now.

In some ways, Salinas will always be home.  That is where my memories of school take place, and that is where I spent many hours playing with Legos and Hot Wheels.  That is where I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, Full House, the 80s-90s Mickey Mouse Club, and the early seasons of the Simpsons.  That is where I spent hours in my room reading Choose Your Own Adventure books and playing the early Mario and Zelda games.

But in other ways, Salinas does not feel like home.  In addition to the memories above, many people seem to have memories of home that involve good friends, organized youth activities like Boy/Girl Scouts or sports, and first loves.  I don’t have many of those memories associated with Salinas.  I did not really have friends until I was a teenager.  There were kids in the neighborhood, but many of them only lived there for a short time, and some of them also weren’t so much friends as people who came over to play with my toys.  I went to school one town over from where I should have, as I have explained before, so until I was old enough to drive, I never saw my school friends outside of school.  My brief forays into Cub Scouts and tee ball were very forgettable, and I did not have anything resembling a first love, beyond a couple of formal school dances that I actually did go to with someone, and a few crushes that left me heartbroken, with the other person never knowing how I felt in most cases.

Yesterday was Picnic Day, a large event that I have mentioned a few other times in this blog; it is essentially an open house and community festival event at my alma mater, UC Davis.  And I realized that I have a second place that feels like home in some ways.  I lived in Davis, a university town just outside of Sacramento, from age 18 until a few weeks before age 25.  Many of those maturing experiences revolving around friendship happened to me there.  This is where I finally felt like I had a community that wanted me around.  Davis is where I came to faith, and where I finally felt like I had connections to the greater community, after I started getting involved in church activities and volunteering with the youth group.  In many ways, going to Davis and the adjacent campus also feels like going home.

I should point out that I don’t mean to put down Salinas or any of my old neighbors or school friends.  I’m just stating things the way they were.  There were some neighborhood kids and classmates who were nice to me, and I started to finally have something resembling a group of close friends by the end of high school.  I think if I had had another year or two around those friends before we all scattered for college, I would have grown a lot closer to them.

Neither Salinas or Davis feels completely like home, and neither one is home anymore.  But being both places gives me a feeling of going back home, each in its own ways.  And that’s okay.  Everyone is different.  Not everyone has one place they consider home; many people move away during childhood, for example.  And, of course, I did not experience a first love in either Salinas nor Davis.  What I would call my first true relationship, with Vega The Nice Ex, happened later during a time when I really did not have a home, but that’s another story.  For now, it’s okay to have two hometowns.