I grew up in Irvine, California, home to Irvine Spectrum and UC Irvine. It's a super safe area. Our crime rates are so low that sometimes I think the cops here get bored. Actually, I know that the cops here get bored. My city is known for being quaint and quiet, of course they're bored. Honestly, I think most of us in Irvine are bored. There are no bars or super artsy restaurants. There aren't any cool art galleries or huge sports arenas. Although we have a ton of huge businesses in Irvine (fun fact: I was driving around and noticed that Maruchan's Headquarters, the company that makes Cup O'Noodles, is literally five minutes away from my house), even the skyscrapers are just so Irvine. It's bland and cookie cutter and beige. It sucks the soul out of you.
Almost every teenager in Irvine loves to talk crap on Irvine. It's so easy to when you're bored out of your mind with close to nothing to do. Naturally, the easiest thing to blame for the terribleness of Irvine was the mastermind that is Irvine Company. Now, keep in mind, Irvine Company does a lot of right things. They keep our city clean and they've protected a large chunk of land from being developed for wildlife. But, it's just so easy to blame the owners of the city when things aren't going right. Kind of like it's easy to blame your parents when they won't let you do anything fun. I was no exception to this rule. My best friend and I would talk about how happy we would be to finally get the hell out of there and move somewhere that actually had personality. Irvine Company closed down the cult ice cream shop around the corner and god, did we have a field day with that one.
Another thing about Irvine is that Irvine Company always has something bigger and better coming. One of my favorite sayings is that the devil works hard, but Irvine Company works harder. I can't remember the last time that Irvine Spectrum wasn't being developed for something. I think this is Irvine Company's way of a) profiting and b) trying to make Irvine cooler but obviously us Irvine kids aren't that impressed.
And then I moved to San Diego. Anyone in San Diego can tell you that the area around SDSU is actual garbage. To go anywhere cool, you need to drive like twenty minutes. Downtown SD? Twenty minutes away. Mission Beach? Twenty minutes away. La Jolla? You guessed it, twenty minutes! Literally any beach? Twenty minutes away or more. By the time I finished my first month at SDSU, I was really missing Irvine. I swear to god, I suddenly didn't recognize myself in the mirror anymore. Who had I become? High school me was and still is rolling her eyes as we speak.
The truth is is that no matter how much I love to talk crap on Irvine, it's still my home. We have some of the best Asian food around. Convoy Street can't even compete. We're in a prime location, ten minutes from some of the nicest beaches in the country. Nothing in San Diego that I had been to could compare to my Irvine/Orange County favorites. My favorite poke place in Newport Beach can't be beat. My favorite boba place blows any boba place in San Diego out of the park. Boring as it might be, my best friend lives five minutes away when we're both in Irvine. My family is all within driving distance. My dog is in Irvine. My mom's cooking is in Irvine.
I know I have grown because Irvine has become one of my favorite places, simply because it's home. I won't settle down here with my kids or my career. But, having moved away, home has made its way to a different part of my heart. A place where I no longer resent its dullness. It will always be known as my childhood, no matter how boring or bland and it will always be considered my first home even when I have completely left it behind.