When you look up San Bernardino, the top results consist of ‘shooting, fights, and gangs’. It’s the poorest city of it’s size in California and it’s where I’ve grown up. We lived on 23rd Street, our little pink house tucked besides one that housed strangers to us with boarded up windows and constant visitors late at night. One the other side, a school teacher and her four children. Perhaps the more interesting parts of my hometown were not the people that lived in the small, square, broken down houses that surrounded ours but the people that lived on the streets in front of them.
The people that live on my street are as familiar to me as my school or the movie theater a few blocks away. On the corner of my street, there lives the man that’s tucked away besides the greasy yellow dumpster shared by the old barber shop and laundromat. As I walk with my brother towards the nearby grocery store, he screams as he puts a needle in his arm. While my young brother was far too young to know, I’ve lived here for too long to not understand.
When you look out at my hometown’s residents you see a determination to work. The men that gather at the gas station for the possibility of any amount of money, the prostitute that wanders back and forth in front of the Qwik Pawn. They are what you see when you come to my home and what so many of the teenagers that live there are trying to run away from.
Through the friends, acquaintances,and partners earned on this street, one thing remains persistent in each. All have become determined to go to school anywhere away from home in hopes of never returning. That’s what my home supplies, a push to escape and carry those you love with you. You learn in better places in hopes that you can take your brother with you the next time you leave, lest he come to understand why the man besides the dumpster screams.