My husband and I recently moved to the Bakersfield area and honestly fell in love with it. It’s easy to get around, there are more than enough restaurants and we have access to every brand store we’ve ever needed. Not to mention we’ve already visited a national forest and a fantastic winery less than two hours away.
That is, we’ve loved Bakersfield until we have to present out-of-state identification. Without fail, cashiers will ask what brought us to the area, and upon hearing that we’ve been transferred for his job, they will always follow up with, “I’m so sorry.” We were stunned. Why apologize?
Then it repeats when I respond to a waiter with “Yes, sir,” or “Thank you, ma’am,” suggesting I’m not from around here. When we explain that we recently moved to the area, groans and apologies follow.
Questions arise: why would we move from Texas? Everyone’s moving from Bakersfield to Texas.
We heard a different story before arriving here.
When we were packing up our house in Houston, everyone we interacted with from packers, to transportation specialists, to hotel management stated that they weren’t surprised we were moving to California. “If you’re moving out, you’re moving to California.”
Houston is a fantastic city but what makes it so incredible is the pride people have in being Houstonians. They quite literally shout it from the rooftops; “H-TOWN!” is a frequent mantra for no obvious reason. “Red Nation” and “Fear the Beard” are chanted for camaraderie at Rockets game and local bars alike. The sport or venue doesn’t really matter when the honor for home takes charge.
Bakersfield has just as much to offer as Houston. But the people need a serious insurgence of pride.
Houstonians don’t care that the humidity is stifling, the traffic is almost unbearable and it takes forever just to get outside of city limits. They’re from Houston, plain and simple, and all those frustrations just come with it.
Bakersfielders need to understand that they are not less than for living here.
And if the town aims to become as diverse with as many attractions as larger surrounding cities, then a transformation needs to occur within city limits.
I would be thrilled if the next time I told someone we recently moved to the area they responded with, “Welcome, you’re one of the lucky ones.”
Because truthfully, no matter what the rest of Bako tries to tell us, that's exactly how we feel.
Mary Emerson is a recent master's graduate from George Washington University and resident to Bakersfield.