United States

叶安灵 // 16, 2022 // she-her-hers
hey hey

Message to Readers

hi! i need title suggestions.
i'd also appreciate (if people felt comfortable) hearing similar experiences or advice on making this piece more impactful.

just beneath the surface: a dig at my hometown.

July 1, 2020

PROMPT: The Unseen

Let’s talk about my hometown.

I live a mile from the beach and a mile from downtown. It’s like being sandwiched between the real world and fantasy, but I think I like both just the same. I’ve always loved the way it smells outside in the summer: salty and warm, the slightest background of sweetness from where the ice cream truck was parked.

This place is the pinnacle of suburban America; if I had to write a coming-of-age novel I would drop my characters into my shoes. People love to talk about our high school’s sports teams, even though we haven't made playoffs in years. People love going to house parties and paddleboarding in the Bay. We all know the best bagels are made on Main Street, but we’ll enthusiastically debate which place has superior pizza (a more controversial argument).

But that’s as controversial as we get. Because no one wants to talk about the fact that this town is divided into three.
The Bay is old money. Country clubs and golfing on the weekends. A lot of them attend the private Catholic high schools, but we have the ones who go to public school to thank for every ounce of funding we have. Most kids in the Bay have private beaches in their backyard and no I’m not exaggerating. It blows my mind every time, even when I’m visiting a friend who has one.
I live in the village. I’m partial to the village. My house is not that big and my friends from the Bay say my home beach is trashy but the village is the cradle of my fondest memories. I love everything about it, from the sound of motorcycles on the main road to reading on the steps of the library to eating paninis while people-watching through the window. Village kids are not the same as kids from the Bay; it must be that we pay fewer property taxes, or that we know to stay within the bike lanes. The Bay is too quiet, a little bit too much a fake Hamptons.

This is the part that we don’t like to talk about. The Station is its own place, with its own town and way of life separate from what I think of as home. If you live in the Bay, you’ve probably only gone to the Station to board a train. If you live in the village, you have friends from the Station but your parents still worry about you being there after dark. Unlike the starchy pristine whiteness I know, the Station is brown and fragrant and slightly dinghy. It’s home to new immigrants and there’s a different church on every street. Every sign is written in Spanish and English, and while the Bay kids know the Station as a hotspot for crime, they can really only see half of the story.

I see the problem with my hometown. I can glorify the beaches and the pizza and the bagels but I can’t lie about the segregation in our education system. I can’t excuse the fact that people use the word “Hispanic” to imply that the Station isn’t good enough. I can’t say I don’t hate it that my AP classes are entirely filled with white kids, and not because they’re the smartest in the school. This town uses the word diverse when it benefits them but does nothing when kids from the Bay are using racial slurs and laughing about it. I love my friends and my family but I don’t love that more money is put into our lacrosse team than into resources for the actual majority. Sixty-percent of your student body are children of color, but the school website looks like a knockoff of Gilmore Girls. When are we going to stop pretending that everything is perfect and cute and quaint here? When are we going to acknowledge that socioeconomic status divides us into tiers cut with hate? Houses fly “Trump 2020” flags when that administration is sending the classmates of their children back to camps.

We don’t need more white-savior-complexes or black squares or your thoughts on the national conversation if you haven’t started from the root. Start here. Let’s talk.
Thank you to everyone who gave me love on "a little bit about me"! I am so excited to contribute to WTW and I can already tell this community is crazy talented. Enjoy this piece that I've rewritten a million times trying to make it more palatable. When the subject itself is hard to swallow, there's only so much you can do.


See History
  • July 1, 2020 - 10:57am (Now Viewing)

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  • rainandsonder

    also from california here (assuming you're talking about the pacific ocean), although i don't exactly live near the sea. i adore the sensory details you use to describe your hometown! "salty and warm, the slightest background of sweetness from where the ice cream truck was parked" is a beautiful line. i also think that this is such an important thing to be talking and writing about, and this is a really strong piece!

    5 months ago
  • inanutshell

    wow, this is so honest. really great in praising your hometown and admitting its faults. love the last few lines and how it ties back to your title. which also, i agree w poetri! think the title works w the first part alone.

    5 months ago
  • poetri

    ok so as a fellow beach(ish) town child, i feel this WAY too much. like honestly. my town isn't as divided but there are divisions and they're clear. i always thought it was just me who noticed this in just my town--nobody would understand. but wow, you get it perfectly, and the eloquence you write about it with is insane. wonderful work.
    as for title suggestions, i'd suggest you just take out the last part (after the colon) to make it flow a lil better.
    anyway, such a good job. can't wait to see what you write next :)

    5 months ago
  • birthdaycandles

    woah this is incredible, it does sound like they’d film a coming-of-age netflix show there lol, the description actually reminded me a bit of a show I started watching called “outer banks” but the issues you spoke of sound very real, and just proves that everywhere no matter how neat it looks from the outside had it’s issues, thanks for sharing I enjoyed this read :)

    5 months ago