I remember those Streets of Bakersfield all too well

Buck Owens knew exactly what he was talking about when he mentioned the judging that goes on in Bakersfield, and relatives are no exception to that rule. I sure wish I would have  prepared myself better before spending the summer there in 2013.

All I was looking for were better opportunities in a huge city like Bakersfield.  I thought this would be the place to give myself a fair chance, a possible better life for both me and my daughter…but I was very wrong.

When my mother passed four years ago, my mother’s sister wanted me to go and live with her to give Bakersfield a try.  I never really knew my aunt, but she seemed very sincere when she gave me the option. She knew that there was nothing more left for me where I was at and she also knew that I would be hitting the road at some point. I have always been known for not staying in one place too long.

I thought about her offer for a while but wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I had taken my mother’s death so badly that I just needed to get out of the area and away from all the memories. So I sent my daughter to Greece, sold everything we had and gave up our apartment. Talk about extreme, this was intense. I had always done things like this in my life, but never with a child.

After putting my daughter on a plane in San Francisco, I headed to my aunts house in Bakersfield and had no idea how things would go. Needless to say, from the day I walked in the door and met my cousins whom I had never met before, there was judgement.  It didn’t matter that I had just lost my mother or that I was there to start a new life, all they saw was an outsider.

I then began to get to know my cousins and found out where they all worked. I knew I needed a job and I was desperate to do just about anything.  A couple of my cousins owned their own businesses but they claimed they were not hiring. Even my cousin’s wife who owned her own hair salon and who was hiring at the time, wouldn’t even hire me to sweep the hair off the floor. She claimed even though she was hiring, there was a person she was waiting to interview and in the end, she ended up hiring the other person.

Once a week they had family dinners and all took turns. I made it a point to attend every week.  I socialized with them so that they could get to know me, but it was all in vein. The look on their faces told me that they were just allowing me to be there and couldn’t wait for the time for me to leave. I realized it was a lost cause. They never wanted me around and would never accept me for who I was. I gave up and left Bakersfield two months later.  I realized I was an outsider going in and remained an outsider even when leaving.

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