After my trip to Israel, I spent a few days in LA to see my family and get over my jet lag. I had the good fortune to meet up with Erick Loh and Amy Lin Loh. Erick and Amy are friends from my time in college ministry at UC Berkeley. They attended UCLA, but we were part of the same larger ministry, so I would see them regularly. They had just finished their time in seminary in Kentucky and were going to start working with a church in the San Fernando Valley, where I grew up.
We met up at House Roots Coffee and had a great time sharing stories of the past few years. They shared about the church and their hopes for their future. Then they asked me a simple question, “What is the Valley like?”
I started to share about my experience in the Valley, about the comfortable suburban living and large Korean population. But slowly, I realized that my vision of the Valley was very narrow. I haven’t lived in the Valley since I graduated high school in 2005. Even when I was there for the summer in 2014, I mostly stayed at home. I don’t have a car, so it’s hard to get around.
I realized that I don’t know much about my hometown, about our history or culture. My experience of the Valley is pretty much just the northwest Korean-American part of the Valley, and maybe not even that. Even when I had a car, I didn’t do much exploring of my hometown. I mostly stayed home and played video games.
My plan after law school has always been to move back to the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s where my adult life is. That’s where most of my community is. Even when I flirted with the possibility of living somewhere else (e.g. Detroit), I knew that eventually, I would go back to the Bay Area. I would say “I’ve lived in the Valley and the Bay Area, and I prefer the Bay Area.” But maybe that’s just because I’ve lived in the Bay as an adult, and my vision of the Valley is still locked in high school mode.
It’s funny how talking about your hometown to someone else can help you realize how little you actually know about it. Would I ever move back to the Valley? Maybe. It certainly would be cheaper than the Bay Area.
And even though I hate driving, at least parking would not be a problem in the Valley. Parking spaces for miles.