Appreciate life in an unusual small town

By Madison Fraser | Reporter

Many know what growing up in a small town is like. Typically, the town is located in the middle of nowhere, many miles away from a large city. There’s one stop light in the center of town, and hopefully, a Dairy Queen right down the street. You know everyone in town, and unfortunately, everything about them. My hometown was sort of like this.

I grew up in the small town of Point Arena on the remote coast of Northern California. It was beautiful, mirroring the geography and climate of Ireland. Large, intimidating redwood trees lined the perimeter of town trailing down to the black sand coast. It was truthfully one of the most gorgeous settings I have ever seen. But what made this town a perfect place to grow up were the wonderfully weird people that lived in it.

Our city was known as a “hippie town,” and everyone took great pride in that. We didn’t have any chain franchises because they took away business from our local vendors. Every eatery in town served organic, locally-raised produce. People lived in yurts, actual built-themselves yurts in the middle of the woods with detached bathrooms. The population consisted of farmers, fisherman, surfers and marijuana growers. From the moment you learned how to walk, you were taught how to surf in the freezing, rocky, shark-infested waters of the Pacific Ocean. In fact, surfing was so beloved that you would most likely skip the last few periods after lunch and paddle out if the surf was good enough.

The locals were always happy and genuinely cared how your day was going. They remembered you when you were a baby and always mentioned how proud they are of you. The constant support of your neighbors was a treat to be surrounded by.

Point Arena is located in Mendocino County, the heart of “The Emerald Triangle,” California’s biggest marijuana production area. It wasn’t uncommon to go to a friend’s house after school and find marijuana growing in the yard and being trimmed on the kitchen table. This was very unusual to grow up around considering it was completely abnormal, and more obvious, illegal. Recreational use of marijuana in California, however, became legal in Nov. 2016.

What coming from this area taught me however, was that although it was unique and special, it was a place I needed to get as far away from as I could. This was a very secluded area being two hours away from a Starbucks and four hours away from San Francisco. I wasn’t sure what the “real world” was like. I applied to colleges all over the country and was desperate to get out as soon as I graduated high school.

Thankfully, however, I have an appreciation every time I come back home during holidays that I don’t have cell phone service or Internet. I’m forced to call my friends on the phone or drive into town to see if anyone is hanging out. I’m thankful that after years of being away, the coffee shop still knows my order. But most of all, I’m thankful that this town has not changed a bit. They people are stuck in their roots and it’s a beautiful thing to be reminded of after living in a world that isn’t as grounded.

More often than not, being raised in a small town seems like the worst thing ever, but in actuality it was one of the biggest blessings that shaped me into the person I am today.

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