I was lucky enough to have lived in the beautiful beach town of Carmel, California for five years and even though I wasn't raised there, I will always consider it to be one of my homes. During my time there, I made some of my best friends and I grew to love the area that is Carmel-by-the-Sea. Now, as a Carmel High alumnus (that's so weird to say), I can look back and appreciate all of the things that made it so special. I'm so thankful that I got to spend my time in high school at Carmel and I wouldn't change any of it. There are some things that hardly ever change about Carmel High School and these are just some of them.
1. Once you leave, you cannot wait to come back.
I can't even count the number of posts I've seen from kids in my high school class talking about how much they miss Big Sur, Monterey, or the Carmel beach or writing about how they cannot wait to go back. Of course, almost everyone who moves away from home misses it, but I think that it's so much harder for those of us who have lived in Carmel because it's hard to not miss such a beautiful place.
2. You can't go anywhere without seeing someone you know.
We are a small town. It seems that everyone knows each other and you can't leave your house without seeing someone who you know. I can't count the number of times when I randomly ran into someone at Safeway or in line at Starbucks. This is a blessing and a curse. I love the sense of community that this gives us, but, at the same time, there are so many times when you just go out in your pajamas, not wanting to see anyone who you know, and you end up running into everyone and their mother.
3. You probably love The Bagel Bakery.
This little bagel shop located in Carmel, PG, and Monterey was always filled with locals. On any given day, I could go in there before classes started and probably run into five or six kids from my high school. The owners of the shop were always super friendly and they knew almost all of their customer's names and orders. There would be times when I would walk in and they would just say hello and already have my order ready for me. You could also count on teachers bringing in bagels from here for classes occasionally. This is something that Ms. Rosen's seniors always loved and it was probably the only motivation that some of us had to do work.
4. It's Carmel, not Caramel.
This is something that I learned to hate. Whenever someone pronounced it Caramel instead of Carme,l it made me cringe. It is pronounced KAR-mel, not KARR-uh-mel. We live in a beach town, not a sugar candy.
5. You know "The Valley kids."
I don't know if there is a way to describe it. However, like every high school, there are stereotypes. One of Carmel High Schools stereotypes was "the valley kids." Everyone knew who the valley kids were, in the same way that everyone knew who the athletes were. The valley kids were generally stereotyped as being the country kids, the trouble makers, the kids who drank too much, and, in some cases, the kids who would always live in the valley. During my time in Carmel, these kids became some of my best friends and if there is one thing I learned, it's that they are the most loyal group who I know.
6. You can recognize the Desert Trip kids.
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The Desert Trip kids are the kids who you can just tell belong in nature. They're the hippies of the area. Almost all of them are super caring and kind-hearted. You can often find them going on different hikes, wandering through Big Sur, or, during spring break, adventuring through Joshua Tree. Almost all of them genuinely care about nature and each other. I, personally, wasn't very close to this group, but all of them were always super kind and caring whenever I interacted with them.
7. Everything is super close.
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You can basically get anywhere you need to go with a 20-minute drive or less, including but not limited to: Carmel Valley to Cachagua, Carmel Valley to Carmel, Carmel to Monterey, Carmel Valley to Monterey, Carmel to Salinas, Monterey to Seaside, Pebble Beach to Monterey, and Pacific Grove to Monterey. Unless you get caught in the rare bad traffic, everything is super close. I remember that, during high school, we were able to drive from Carmel High School to the mall in Monterey, get lunch, and then drive back to CHS all during our 35-minute lunch break. I don't know about everyone else now, but it takes me 20 minutes to go two miles where I'm living now. So, I definitely miss being close to everything!
8. You learn to live with the fog.
Living by the beach means that it's foggy almost every day. A lot of the time, we get lucky and the fog burns off by the afternoon. That means early mornings are cold, but by the afternoon it could be warm and sunny. Living in Carmel, you learn how to always dress in layers. My car almost always had changes of clothes for whatever the weather could turn out to be.
9. Everyone knows your business.
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One thing that comes with living in a small town is that gossip spreads like wildfire. If someone got in a car accident or got arrested, everyone knew about it by the next morning before class even started. The same thing goes for all of the adults in the town. Often, people knew about someone's divorce before it had even been filed. It's a small town where everyone knows each other and everyone gossips.
10. Kathy's Little Kitchen is the best.
Everyone knows that the absolute best breakfast burritos come from Kathy's Little Kitchen in the valley. It's a tiny Mexican restaurant that you just can't beat when it comes to their breakfast burritos. Also, if you're a regular there, it's likely that they have your picture up on the wall.
11. We have a love/hate relationship with the Concours d'Elegance.
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As great as it is for our economy and all the local businesses, the Concourse can also be a huge inconvenience. As cool as it is to see all the amazing cars, new and old, it creates a huge amount of tourists heading to the area for that week. This is a great thing for all the businesses, but it creates horrible traffic and it can turn a 15-minute drive into an hour and 30-minutes drive. We always used to joke that when Concours comes into town, all the locals get to stay home until it's over.
12. You have probably watched one of the "Cops of Carmel" videos.
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This video series was created by local Carmel High School students and alumni Jason Clark and Austin Moonan. It started out as a project for a video production class, but has now grown to have four episodes and a holiday special. "Cops of Carmel" is a video series featuring many recent CHS graduates mocking the cops in the area. When talking to Austin Moonan, he said, "This video series was created by Jason Clark and I one day as just something fun to do and we just keep making them because it's something really cool that brings people from our high school together." It is a hilarious video series that, if you went to Carmel high, you have probably seen at least one episode of. If you haven't, then you should definitely click the link above and check it out.
13. You probably went to the Monterey County Fair.
Living in the Monterey Bay, there were very limited things to do. So, whenever the Monterey County Fair came into town in the fall, you could find almost everyone who you know there. From random concerts to your typical carnival games, the Monterey County Fair holds some great memories for us.
14. You know Ann Berry.
Ann Berry is the secretary known by all of the students who have attended Carmel in the last 37 years. If you wanted to leave campus, you had to go through her. She was one of the funniest, sassiest, most caring faculty on that campus once you got to know her. She definitely had her favorites and if you were on her good side, she would do anything she could to help you succeed. If you were on her bad side, however, you probably wanted to avoid her office as much as possible. She didn't put up with anyone's shit and kept all the students in line and in class. So, if you went to Carmel high school at all in the last 37 years, you definitely know Ann Berry.
15. You had at least one teacher who you were close to.
One very special thing about Carmel High School is that the teachers truly care about their students. Almost every student who goes through Carmel High has some teacher or faculty member who they are close to. This is something that we really don't appreciate as much as we should. There are far too many amazing teachers to list, but the ones who were continually favorites of the students were always there to support us and were our biggest fans. Some teachers would force students to send in college applications, call you personally if you missed class too often, and do anything that they could to help you be successful. This, of course, wasn't true for all of the teachers at Carmel High, but, overall, we had the best teachers and staff imaginable for a public high school!
16. You may or may not have snuck into one of the high schools pools at night.
This was a unspoken tradition followed by many high school students across the Monterey bay. Our senior class got caught swimming in the pool at 2:00 a.m. as part of our senior prank. It wasn't our finest moment, but those are memories that I'll hold onto forever. Besides, at various different times during the year, different groups of students would jump into the pool during the night with their friends. If you went to Carmel High, this was likely something that you did at least once.
17. Everyone loved the beach bonfires.
Countless memories were made down near 13th street after sunset at the beach bonfires. So many family bonfires were held here. There were countless times spent hanging out with friends and family, making s'mores, and laughing. It breaks my heart a little, knowing that I won't be able to continue these traditions for years to come now that they have placed a ban on bonfires at Carmel Beach.
18. The shoe game was a big deal.
The annual game between Carmel and Pacific Grove was likely the only football game that you attended all year. The entire week leading up to the game is filled with dress-up days, pep rallies, and events to get both teams excited for the game. The game was always packed and it was the only game that you could really count on students attending. If you went to Carmel High School, you probably attended at least one shoe game.
19. People probably thought that you were rich just because you lived there.
While Carmel has a largely wealthy population, not everyone who attended there was wealthy. Now, having moved away, whenever I tell someone that I'm from Carmel, if they have any idea where that is, they automatically think that my family is wealthy. We live in such an amazing area, so people just assume that we are rich because we live there.