Lessons Learned by the Lake

by | Sep 19, 2017 | Opinion, page 2 | 1 comment

In a quest to reconvene the Redlands Bulldog with something fun, each editor reflected on their summer and what it’s like to return home after being away for college.

 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit sad to be coming back to school. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and actually enjoy my classes here. Nevertheless, when it came time for me to leave the Bay Area, particularly Oakland, I was hit with a wave of sadness.

 

Redlands is a good temporary home. The weather is fantastic, and right when it starts to get unbearably hot, I get to leave. I’m thankful for the friends that I have made and all the people I have met, from the wonderful people who work at the commons, to my amazing professors. It is fun living independently and away from home. I get to make my own decisions. I get to pick what I have for dinner, and nobody is entitled to know where I spend my days or what time I get home. I am lucky to have been able to make my temporary home a comfortable one, but there is nothing quite like the place that raised and shaped you. My family on both sides are from the Bay Area. My mom is a fifth generation San Franciscan, while my Dad is a first generation and his parents immigrated to San Francisco in the 60’s.  For me, home is being surrounded by the people I love, and almost all of the people and things I love are in the Bay Area.

I am proud to be from a place with a rich history of activism and diversity. I grew up surrounded by people of different identities and beliefs, and from a young age I can remember seeing people marching and standing up for what they believe in. When Oscar Grant was shot and killed by the BART police, I can remember seeing his face and picture all over the city. I remember watching the protests against his unjust death all play out, just a few miles away from my home. During the Occupy demonstrations, I remember driving my car through the tented city and watching protesters in Oakland being tear gassed by the police. In recent years, Black Lives Matter protests and gatherings have become commonplace around the East Bay, and come from a variety of demographics and perspectives. I have seen immense amounts of wealth while also witnessing incredible poverty just miles away. And with that, I have literally seen the affects of gentrification take place in front of my own eyes. That being said, I trust Oakland will remain a city that prides itself on its commitment to activism and diversity.

There is no better example of Oakland’s essence than Lake Merritt. It is not like most lakes as it is literally in the middle of the city, and it is not intended for swimming. Lake Merritt is a place I grew up going, and I continue to spend a significant amount of time there, as I appreciate its display of creativity and diversity. You could sit by the lake all day and see people of all different ages, socioeconomic classes and races. The lake is filled with life: people walking, running, having picnics, playing music and dancing. I was recently strolling around the lake with my best friend on a beautiful sunny day, and as we walked around it we reminisced about growing up there and fun memories we had. She recalled the time she accidentally rode her bike into the lake (this is NOT a lake you would want to swim in– lots of goose poop). As we made our way around the lake we saw a wide variety of people. There were groups of young people barbecuing and having a dance party. There were two couples picnicking together. People were running, singing, and meandering around the lake. Cars drove by us, vibrating because of the loud music. There were men playing the drums as children danced to the rhythms they were making. As we looked out at the lake and skyline of downtown Oakland while we ate burritos and drank horchata from our favorite taco truck, Mi Rancho, we soaked in the liveliness of one of our favorite spots. We were thankful and proud to call it our home.

 

After being away for a year, I was able to look at Oakland completely differently and have a greater appreciation for the culture I was brought up in. Now, don’t get me wrong, Southern California is a great place to go to college. With its fantastic sunny weather, lush beaches, and palm trees, I practically live in paradise. And as I take on my second year of college, I am now a strong, independent woman with a passion for fighting for justice, and I acknowledge that there is still so much to learn about the world around me. Although I can’t give Oakland all the credit for who I am today, it provided the basis for my passions and values. With all that’s going on in this world and within our current administration, I feel lucky to be from a city and a region that stands for the opposite.  I am happy to go to a somewhat progressive university, where I have been able to expand out of my liberal bubble and see and hear opinions that are different from my own. And, I’ll strive to bring the sense of justice, diversity, and open mindedness that the Bay Area helped teach me to the culture section of the Redlands Bulldog Newspaper.

 

stories and photos by Emilia Rivera, Culture Editor

1 Comment

  1. Molly

    I have been a fan of the lake for some time! After leaving San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, I was sad to miss that culture of nature appreciation that I grew up in. I have found myself called many nights to the portals at the lake to watch and appreciate all the space for reflection in nature that Lake Merritt offers. Emilia I am proud of you, that you are moving and growing and sharing yourself with others, in this forum.