Salinas is Home

For a while in my late teens and early twenties, when people would ask where I was from, I would say, "Oh, umm, Monterey!" I would be met with responses like, "Oh, so you're like a beach girl!," or "I bet it's expensive to live there!" I didn't live in Monterey though.

I lived in Salinas, a city about 20 miles northeast of Monterey and notorious for many things that did not include its beaches or exclusive real estate.

Growing up, Salinas was just my hometown. I liked it. I became accustomed to the sirens at all hours of the day. I had many friends who's family members had been gunned down right in front of their own homes. I knew well not to walk down certain hallways in school because I knew some of the gangs claimed them. This was my normal. And I never thought much of it until I ventured out into the world a little more.

At 16, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for the first time.

I walked down the streets once conquered by the Ottoman Empire, visited the tomb of Julius Caesar, wiped away tears as I gazed upon the Sistine Chapel.

I realized there was so much around me that I needed to discover. And although not everything is a work of art, it's important to find the beauty in the imperfections.

This is a concept I have been trying to express though my Instagram and by showcasing my love of fashion, regardless of the fact that maybe I am not the ideal body type for many clothing brands.

But before that, I realized that it was important to take in the beauty of the environment I lived in. At this time, the impurities of my town definitely stood out to me more prominently, but I also realized there were much more amazing things shining through.

One of those things was Girls Inc. of the Central Coast. Joining Girls Inc., I learned about how to persevere when factors in your environment or out of your control are not the ideal. It was life changing to have a safe place to share ideas, questions, and revelations with a group of other girls that were in the same boat. I ended up working for Girls Inc. for about a year. It is still one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I know in my heart, this program must have helped at least one of the lovely students we facilitated, stay on a positive path towards a successful future, and clear away from gangs.

Once I started college and moved away to Los Angeles and then San Francisco, I became a bit detached. But once I moved back, I began to take part in local events and even ventured out farther than just Monterey.

So to those fashionistas, artists, and all other creatives who feel like living in a small town far from San Francisco, NYC, or wherever, just know that you don't have to travel far to see beauty.

Start small. Try some local restaurants you would have never thought to go to. See what kind of events are happening nearby. Sometimes, you'll meet amazing and outgoing people who can keep you in the know.

Again, adventure, fun, and excitement doesn't have to be a $500 plane ticket away. It may be a priceless breezy stroll right down the block.

How many of you can relate to this small town feeling? Any of you have suggestions or ideas that can help us embrace our hometowns for the great places they are?

Thanks for reading everyone!

-The B of V

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