No Place Like Home

by Holly Garcia (United States of America)

I didn't expect to find USA


In every math or science class growing up, I was always told before solving an equation to "Start with what you know".  I've wanted to travel ever since I got hooked on the Olsen Twin movies. My imagination ran wild as a kid, as I would finish a movie, run to the closet, throw on the closest thing I owned to whatever the twins were wearing, and go out into my backyard, right into Paris, or London, or wherever I wanted it to be. And I would pretend I'm on set shooting a movie with my imaginary twin as I reenacted every scene from memory (and wouldn't you know, I later graduated with a film degree).  It's not like I've never been anywhere, I've been here and there around the continent. I've just never actually left the continent. Nonetheless, I'm grateful for each experience: Cancun, Canada, and several states. I remember my first time walking down Music Row in Nashville and seeing starving artists playing and singing on every corner, waiting to be discovered, then the immediate disheartened feeling that follows, the feeling that you'll never see them again. Every place has a different story. But what I'm starting to notice is no one ever thinks of their hometown as one of those places. Everyone knows in order to be a travel writer you have to, you know, travel. But I have yet to see a travel blogger write about where they're from or where they grew up. Maybe it's not as luxurious as a getaway to Santorini and taking the perfect Instagram pic atop those famous white rooftops, Martini in hand while showing off that new bikini from, which you can get for 20% off using the code MYNAME20 (#ad). But what makes a story interesting does not rely solely on the destination itself. What makes a story interesting is the person writing it.  I was born in a big city, but I grew up and spent most of my life in a small, rural town in California, surrounded by trees, and the most saturated green you've ever seen. It's beautiful, and definitely something I took for granted growing up. I always felt less fortunate than other people, friends even, because their families took them on trips to other countries. They had the money to do that, and I didn't. And guess what? I still don't. Student debt will do that to you. In fact, after giving LA a try, I had to come back home because I couldn't find a way to support myself. It was miserable at first, because it was something I really didn't want to do. But I soon found myself starting to appreciate more and more about this place with each passing day. It started with little things I'd notice, like how blue the sky is some days, or being outside at the right time of the day when there isn't a single sound, except maybe some birds in the distance. It's very calming to sit in the middle of the yard, feeling the warm sun on my skin and taking in how bright the colors are, the smell of grass, and sometimes the faint sound of someone mowing their lawn on the other side of this miniature valley.  Sound really carries here, but it never bothered me. Every time I look out my window, I see the kind of place some escape to when they need to get away from the world. The best part is living next to a county park with our own private access, trails leading up hills and secret sunset spots that only we and the park rangers know about. Hardly anyone is ever there, unless it's Easter or some other holiday that requires barbecuing and other outdoor activities. And I've never run into anyone on my favorite trails. Like I said, it's not common knowledge. Few locals even know how far back they go. Of course I'd still love to go to Paris. I know one day I'll get there. But it turns out you don't have to travel very far to find something unique... or Instagram worthy. Start with what you know.