August, 1998. I moved to Anaheim. I wasn't intending to stay long. Ex-Wife and I were having some issues and it was decided to dump the house and move closer to our jobs (as opposed to being 70 miles out) and try to work on things. Short story: shit wasn't working and the second shoe dropped within a year.
I ended up staying in the neighborhood and got a flat close to work for the time being. Life happened as it does, and I stayed in Anaheim for ten years, until September of 2008, when I grabbed Wife #2 by the hair and drug her with me back out to 'the sticks'.
I'm not sure when it happened, but I got to the point where the question of "Where you from?" was usually answered with "Anaheim" or "Orange County", with Anaheim eventually taking primacy as a source of regional identity.
I still say it. Anaheim. It's where I'm from, and where I feel like I'm from.
I like it there. I like being from there.
Unlike rea l hometowners, I have no memory of what Anaheim used to be. Despite it's history as a white working class suburb of Los Angeles refugees, it just isn't that way anymore.
Nowadays, much of the city is just this side of barrio and the primary language of it's failing school system is Spanish.
Yet, the business community is fairly diverse. I think this is the aspect that saves Anaheim from becoming like it's neighbor, Santa Ana, which is more a political province of Mexico than an ethnic enclave of the United States.
For the most part, life in Anaheim is fairly decent. The cops don't harass the citizens, taxes are low, the city maintains itself, lots of killer-cool ethnic eateries you can't find concentrated anywhere else, and I've never hesitated to walk alone at night, even past the barrio sections.
It takes all walks to create the world, and Anaheim is a world to itself if your perspective is right.
From this man's perspective: the loopy tourists, gang members, strip clubs, Little Gaza and the Mexican weddings provide more entertainment to the observer than any real fear. I think that's why I like it.
Last month, cops responded to a 911 call in an empty parking lot (not two blocks from my last apartment) to find five Mexicans in a car with serious stab wounds ... and not one of them knew how they got that way!
Not one of them knew how they got that way!
That's some pretty funny stuff, right there.
I laughed for fifteen minutes.
I'm from Anaheim, and I like it.