The Not So Saddest Place to Live

This used to be a movie theater and is now one of the coolest coffee places ever.

I went to Stockton for Thanksgiving. It’s about a 2 hour drive that took almost 3.5 because of holiday traffic. I was born in Stockton. Moved away when I was 9. Moved back when I was 18. Moved away and back when I was 22 and then moved away at 32. And because I like to pretend I can lie about my age, I will not say how long ago that was.

I would also like to say in a purely random fashion that I wish the doctor’s office would stop insisting on using my birth date- INCLUDING YEAR- to identify me. And I would like some certain people on facebook to stop using their year on their profile page like they think their age is a perfectly normal, mentally healthy thing to display to the world.

Okay, anyway, I went to Stockton for Thanksgiving. Stockton gets a lot of bad press. I just read an article about the saddest places to live in the US  and I cringed thinking, uh oh, here we go again. But Stockton wasn’t on it!

It did make the list for one of the most miserable places.

Since I moved away, it may seem weird that I am defending my hometown. But I didn’t move away because I hated Stockton. I moved away to escape my crazy relatives in Stockton.

But Stockton itself didn’t trouble me. I love the Port. I think it is utterly fascinating to be smack dab in the middle of the state, hours away from the ocean and see a cargo ship from Russia. I almost got arrested out there because of Y2K, but will save that story for another post. I love the channels which always make me think of Huckleberry Finn with their islands and hidden fishing spots.

And for those of you from Stockton, no, I did not go to THAT island EVER because I used to go to a Baptist church and you go to hell if you even say THAT island’s name.

I love Haggin Museum and remember when the mummy was not behind glass and you could TOUCH it. Which my Aunt Sally dared me to do, and I did, but only on the shoulder. She touched its foot which is much worse, I think.

I love the fish pond at Delta College and all the crazy stairs and hallways there. I am convinced that place is haunted by some of the souls from its State Hospital days.

UOP. Go tigers. Please bring football back!

I love UOP. It looks like it was plucked right out of the East Coast Ivy League and plopped in the middle of town. I have been to the top of Burns Tower and I have been to many a wedding at Morris Chapel. I have other stories about UOP, but am not sure the statute of limitations has run out so I will keep quiet (for now).

I love going to see the Christmas Tree Lights on Christmas Tree Lane. And I know that is not the real name of that street, but I don’t know its real name and I love it anyway.

I love Oak Park. I went to an awards ceremony in Los Angeles for Oak Park one time and when the photo came up with those grand trees, the whole audience “oohed”. And I sat up a little straighter because that park was in MY hometown.

Stockton has an amazing ethnic history. Street signs in Chinese characters. The Filipino plaza. The Mexican markets. This is a city that defines melting pot. You want to talk cultural diversity, let’s go to Stockton. And while we’re there, let’s eat because I know the good places.

I love the downtown library and the civic theater and city hall. I love the Stockton Hotel. And I even love that weird sail thing they built just before I left. I love the zoo. I really really love Pixie Woods.

When people say how much they hate Stockton, I wonder why they live there. Leave! Then maybe it won’t make the most miserable list because there will be less miserable people living there. But I will not be one of them because of those crazy relatives I mentioned earlier.  However, I will be more than happy to come for Thanksgiving.