Home Sweet Home

Daily Prompts

Welcome, Stranger

Think about the town where you currently live: its local customs, traditions, and hangouts, its slang. What would be the strangest thing about this place for a first-time visitor?

Honestly? The strangest thing about Irvine, California is that there’s nothing strange about it. It’s very hot almost 300 days a year, has way too many Asians, and has been voted America’s safest city for I don’t know how many consecutive years. We don’t have any spectacular local cuisines or historical monuments or exotic customs. There’s really nothing to attract tourists. People come here to settle – to give birth and raise families and die. That sounds awfully bleak, but Irvine is the kind of city that makes people feel comfortable and secure rather than inspired and excited.

To me the one standout place in my town is Suicide Hill, which is basically the top of this mini hill that overlooks the entire city. The high school kids in my town usually hike up at night to chill, drink a few beers, and admire the spectacular city lights which are actually not that spectacular at all. If I were to describe this place objectively, it’s really just a barren, elevated piece of land with a few rocks and a bench and a bunch of bright dots in the black, black sky. Yet it’s one of my favorite places in the world. When my friends and I return from college in the winter and summer, the first place we revisit is Suicide Hill. Whenever a college friend or a boyfriend or a sibling visits from out of town, the first place we take them to is Suicide Hill. It’s always like, “oh never mind about food, let’s go to Suicide Hill.” Sounds bleak as fuck, doesn’t it? I’ve never understood the name. For me it’s more like Memory Hill. What I remember about it are not the rocks or the lights or the cold air but the stale beers and the long chats and the laughs. The memories are nothing particularly special, but every time I go back it feels like home. It’s the place where we’ve shared our worries about the SAT and skepticism about love and excitement for college and nostalgia for the good old days. It’s where we grew up.

So why is this place strange for first-time visitors? Because they’ll have no idea why we love this ordinary barren piece of land so damn much.

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