San Joaquin Fair, 2011

The first time I visited Stockton was almost 10 years ago. My husband – who was not my husband yet – had a job interview here, and we drove together, straight up I-5 from Los Angeles County.

I dropped him off Downtown and looked for someplace to sit.

There was a farmer’s market – which is how I know it must have been a Friday.

But by the time I got there, most of the vendors were packing up – which is how I know it must have been late afternoon.

After finishing a cup of coffee, I got back in the car.

For me, on that day, all of Stockton existed in those few square miles between Market and Harding, El Dorado and Wilson. There were no paychecks or play dates, dinner parties or doctor appointments in that universe. I couldn’t even find a public restroom.

It feels a little dangerous to think back on times like that, when it could have gone either way – memory tricks you into believing everything that happened next was inevitable. But the truth is, he might not have gotten the job. I might not have followed him.

And yet again, the truth is, he did take the job. I followed him six months later. We got married. We bought a house. We had a child.

I’m not for papering over the cracks: Our community’s challenges are critical. Its problems demand our care and consideration.

At the same time, this isn’t a place I can watch from a safe distance. This is where I’m raising a family – and everything that means.

You too?

Well then.

Let’s be in it together.

Let’s lift all boats.

Let’s hope for the best.

Let's swing for the fences.

We live here. We’re home now.
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