The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

OPINION: My love letter to Stockton sent from sunny Southern California

Courtesy of Anika Brodnansky
Anika Brodnansky ecstatically holds her favorite sandwich from Podesto’s in Stockton, Calif. She always orders it on a wheat roll with a side of Doritos.

I find it so strange that something we once despised at the very core of our being can become something worth longing for, something worth aching over.

Growing up in Stockton, California, I was raised to hate it. I was told my whole life that this was the kind of place you should desperately try to leave, and this eventually guided the course of my young life. I remember being 13 and wishing for nothing more than to escape the concrete prison disguised as a city that I had been trapped in my entire life. 

In the blink of an eye, I was an adult, and the desire to leave was stronger than ever. I looked at every business, restaurant, and shop that had surrounded me for the past 18 years and prayed that someday soon, I could leave it all behind. I longed for the day when I could find a new home, new places to frequent, and new streets to wander. 

My dreams became reality when I moved to Santa Barbara for college. I remember promising myself I would never go back home. When new friends would ask me where I was from, I would simply answer, “Northern California.”

But after the initial haze of starting college had passed, I found myself lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling of my two-bedroom apartment with a longing that I just couldn’t place. I realized a piece of me was missing, and that piece was home—Stockton.

Anika Brodnansky beams for a photo with her two moms, Susie Cosgrove (left) and Sharon Brodnansky (right). They are in the middle of a Sunday drive along the San Joaquin Delta in Stockton, Calif. (Courtesy of Anika Brodnansky)

Leaving home is what made me realize that I have been wrong my whole life. I don’t hate Stockton. I love it. 

I love every boring, monotonous aspect of my life there. I love passing the March Lane dog park on the way to my best friend’s house. I love my summer job, which I had once dreaded. I love taking my golden retriever on the same three-mile walk every weekend, even if she finds her way into a mud puddle every time.

I love every restaurant I grew up frequenting, especially the ones that I don’t need a menu to order from. I love the local grocery store in Lincoln Center that makes my favorite sandwich. I love the diner I ate at to celebrate my high school graduation and the one I ate at to celebrate my middle school choir concerts.

I love the people from Stockton that held my hand as I grew up. I love the old neighbors who feel like family, the ones who taught me to garden and sew. I love all of the “aunts” who are really just my parents’ old friends who have become angels in my life. I love my two moms, who have nurtured me with such attention and care, the kind that I hope to replicate someday.

I love everything about Stockton, even the parts that deter most people from visiting. Stockton and the people who live there made me into who I am today, and I can proudly say that I wouldn’t want to have grown up anywhere else. No matter how far I have come from being that 13-year-old with a dream for something more, Stockton will always be a piece of me. It will always be my home.

Story continues below advertisement
More to Discover