My life as a blogger has been many things: grueling, invigorating, tasty, silly, expensive, cheap, uncomfortable, fun, eye-opening, exhausting, death-defying (OK, maybe not the last one). But there’s probably one word that trumps the rest when I think of my twelve months as Ms. i am san fernando: satisfying.
There’s something extremely fulfilling about feeling the fire underneath your fingertips as you type until 4 a.m. about a vegan chef raised in Pacoima, a comedian rediscovering community through his craft, or even red velvet pancakes in the ‘hood (the positive implications of said pancakes run deep, but that’s another story.)
Yes, satisfying. Satisfaction in knowing that a small idea born in New York was strong enough to carry this site to where it is today.
The beauty of i am san fernando, to me anyway, is that it puts a finger on something intangible and makes it real. You see, back when I was on the East Coast and tried to explain what this blog would be about, I wasn’t very good at articulating the concept. Most people would shrug and respond with a disinterested comment like, “So, it’s going to cover events and your hometown and…?”
Mainly it didn’t resonate with people out there because they weren’t from here. i am san fernando is so much more than events, singles, eats, local finds, etc. It’s more because collectively these posts add up to one thing: value. Value in an area that is consistently written off, in people who aren’t recognized, in a community you know has done much for your personhood but they can’t understand.
I’m going to get a little personal, in case my life documented in a blog for the past year hasn’t been personal enough. My parents came from Mexico, landed in the city of San Fernando and found success in a business run out of Pacoima. I was born in Sun Valley, lived in Pacoima and Mission Hills until I was six and went to San Fernando Elementary School for kindergarten. Then, my parents moved their kids to “greener” (whiter) pastures, Northridge, thinking that was the best thing for their children.
Life kind of turned upside down when the foundation below us literally shook (see ’94 earthquake.) My parents had their home foreclosed, lost their business and filed for bankruptcy. We moved back to Mission Hills, then Arleta, and did a good deal of bouncing around — we moved six times in three years — before finally settling in San Fernando. Years 12 to 18 were not my happiest.
I later came to appreciate that period. Again, it was something intangible but profound. After going away to college, living in L.A. proper for a few years and shooting off to New York for graduate school, I came to realize how much the city had crept into my bones. My adolescent years were about balancing circumstances, facing economic disparity, finding my place in changing communities, the push and pull between spectator and participant in my own culture; San Fernando threw all of this in my face. How could I not be forever changed?
And so, in later discovering how much of my world perspective had been informed by such a small, small area, it became clear that i am san fernando had to happen. Because if I attributed so much to this part of the Valley, I knew others found meaning in it and would want to see that value affirmed.
Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on something, but you know it’s there. There’s a sense of place, strength and beauty in finally seeing your community recognized. It’s downright satisfying.
Thank you to everyone who made the past year possible and for the amazing support you’ve shown i am san fernando. I expect big things in 2012 and can’t wait to share these enhancements with you. Check out the past year in pictures and, for old times’ sake, i am san fernando’s very first blog post.