I Found Home – Essay by Heather Tanner
I have been fortunate enough to “discover” Pacifica multiple times. What I discovered was a place I could call home, and that I always want to be at.
First, as a teenager in 1991, or so, my family moved here. I was a graduating senior and I discovered all the adventure waiting for me. I walked the beaches, the pier, and the hills, and with each step, discovered Pacifica was beautiful, full of nice people, and richly diverse, but it didn’t feel like home.
Then, I left for college. I came home, briefly, after college, but Pacifica was mostly a bedroom. When I truly moved back to Pacifica it was as a young mom, with my two kids in tow. This was when I really discovered Pacifica.
I enrolled my kids at the preschool in the community center and met many young families. We had things in common, including a love for Pacifica as a safe place to raise our kids. I convinced my mother and brother to move here (although it may have been the grandkids). All along, I was falling in love with this town. But it still wasn’t home.
As my kids grew, so did my love for this town. My kids, and by default, me, were involved in so many things. First, they enjoyed the great libraries. Then, they attended Ocean Shore K-8 and were involved in a dizzying amount of activities. Spindrift, PSL swim team, Challenger soccer camps, robotics, girl scouts—it never ended. One was consistent, and they wore their uniforms with pride—Pacifica Tigersharks. Everytime they wore their uniforms they proudly told people they were from Pacifica. I got to know many Pacificans, and all I can tell you is they’re great. But it didn’t feel like my home, just the kids.
On July 15, 2015, tragedy befell me. On my way home from work, I had a massive hemorrhagic stroke. Thanks to some quick thinking by my husband, I survived. I went from running everywhere to being stuck in a wheelchair. I was bitter, to boot. But Pacifica stepped up in a big way. My family never had to worry about food or rent. My kids got to school. Neighbors pitched in to help a Pacifican who needed help.
For 5 months, I was in the hospital working hard to get back to the community I loved. Everyday, I found myself missing Pacifica more and more. These were my friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens. When I first got back, I found it hard to find my groove. I still find it hard, truth be told. With its hills and beaches, Pacifica is not exactly equipped to welcome wheelchairs (but they are getting better). But what I found was my neighbors, my friends, my family, and ordinary Pacificans willing to help. I found an embracing community. I found that Pacifica is more than just a unique set of places to visit that make it a really cool town. Pacifica is special because the people in it are special.
I found home.
Heather Tanner won runner up for the 2019 essay contest with theme of ‘Discover Pacifica’. Learn more about Fog Fest Annual Essay contest here.