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Returning to Fresno

 

January 28 2014

I lived in Fresno for three years to get my degree in Computational Linguistics. I had to return there one last time.

==Once upon a time==

It was a decade ago when I studied in Fresno.

To socialize while in college, I went to three different church groups (Two English speaking groups and a Spanish-speaking Catholic group) and made a lot of casual friends there as well as in classes and even made one cool friend at the gym I went to.

After getting my degree, I only went back to Fresno a couple of times to visit friends up there before taking the plunge and moving in Mexico. Over six years passed without me entering Fresno.

==Returning to Fresno==

I finally went back to Fresno late last December to clean out an old storage locker I’ve had up there (it got renewed every year on New Year’s day).

Fresno has always had issues with poverty (it’s the poorest city in California), but the economic collapse has not been friendly to this town at all. I saw a lot more homeless people in Fresno on the street asking for money or just roaming around than I did a decade ago.

While the Blockbusters stores that used to be around other parts of the state have been replaced with restaurants or other stores, the one former Blockbuster I saw, in an upscale part of Fresno to boot, is still a shuttered building with a "For Lease" sign.

==Remembering old friendships==

In a way I enjoyed saying a final goodbye to a place I lived for three years, and in a way it’s sad to realize that I have completely lost touch (no Facebook, nada) with most of the people I knew when I lived there.

While I managed to touch base with two old friends, I could not find my old gym buddy: Where he worked last time I saw him over six years ago has been bought out--the guy there didn’t know who I was talking about; the lady who opened the door where he lived didn’t recognized his name.

When driving up there, I went through the hometown of another person in my life back then who I lost touch with over the years; driving through her hometown, I warmly remember what a lovely friend (yes, it was I who friend zoned her, not that women mind that the way guys do) she was and how I could very well never see her again.

Some of the people I knew here were on my MySpace friend list, but I canceled that account years ago. When Facebook gets replaced by whatever the next thing is, I wonder how many Facebook friends I will lose touch with.

==Life moves on==

I made a point of listening to my favorite song in the car — Jonn Serrie’s very peaceful Glyder — as I left the town for the last time.

Life ultimately moves on forward, not backwards; Steve Jobs articulated this well when he said “If you look backwards in this business, you’ll be crushed. You have to look forward.” Then again, it was important to say one final goodbye to a place which helped define who I am today.

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