I was on Facebook this morning and came across a link posted by a high school classmate to a Forbes.com list of the ‘Most Miserable Cities in America.’ Number 1 is my hometown, Stockton, Calif., based on its unemployment rate, commuting times, income tax, lack of education, home foreclosure rates (highest in the nation) and the list goes on.
My initial reaction was wry amusement, followed by some defensiveness. After all, Stockton is home. Sort of.
I grew up in Southern California, in the Inland Empire on the edge of the desert, but moved to NorCal at the beginning of my freshman year of high school. I lived in Stockton for a total of four years before going to D.C. for college, with only short breaks and one summer spent back in CA. It’s been 7 years since I lived there, but when asked where I’m from, I say Northern California, and when pressed, I say Stockton (no one has ever heard of it over here, and very few people on the East Coast have any idea of California’s geography, so saying it’s “near Sacramento” means next to nothing).
But like I said, I’ve been away nearly twice as long as I actually lived there, and I’m trying to figure out if I cling to Stockton because it’s where my parents live, or if it’s because I need a hometown to feel anchored.
What are your thoughts on hometowns? Do you have one and wish you didn’t? Do you not have one and wish you did? Do you claim more than one? Any permutation therein?