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George Castillo: 2 Years Old and Homesick for L.A.

KCET Departures asks, "What's your or your family's Los Angeles arrival story?"

Today, we hear from George Castillo, a student at Cal State LA:

"Me? I was born in Los Angeles, but both my mother and father are from Mexico City.

"They grew up on opposite sides of the railroad tracks, but met together through mutual friends. My mom claims that it was my dad's erratic behavior that drew her to him. On the bus to work, she'd look out the window and couldn't help but stare with a curious expression.

"Who was there? My father. He was in the crouched sprinter's position and ready to race against the bus the second it started to move. This was his workout. I find it strange, but I guess it worked. In this way, he wooed my mom.

"My dad came to LA to start a new adventure. He and my mom had a long distance relationship. She was in Mexico, he was in Los Angeles.

"One day, my mom was talking about my dad to one of her friends. She expressed her fear that he would one day ask her to move to Los Angeles with him. Then, in the middle of this conversation, my dad arrived unexpectedly at her doorstep. He had with him one proposition. He asked her to come with him to Los Angeles.

"He told her (in Spanish, of course): 'You have to move to LA with me! It's beautiful. It's gorgeous out there. California is a completely different world.'

"My mom was hesitant, but eventually convinced. Soon, they married and I was born.

"At first, we lived near Downtown L.A. Eventually we moved to the City of Bell, and that's where I grew up. I'm still in LA. Right now, I go to Cal State LA and I am enrolled in the Honors College. Things have really been looking up for me.

"But since I was born in Los Angeles, my Arrival Story began way before I was born - a story that truly belongs to my parents. There is, however, a particular moment when I think my own personal Arrival Story materialized.

"I figure I could title it, 'Homesick.' That's because when I was around two-years-old, my mom decided that she didn't like Los Angeles. She felt it was just as smoggy and overpopulated as Mexico. Except that in Mexico, she had family and friends to support her. Here, she only had my father.

"She missed Mexico. So she flew the both of us to Mexico City with the idea that we were going to live there permanently.

"But I got really sick - I had asthma, fever, terrible allergies - and my mom panicked. She took me to countless doctors and they couldn't completely alleviate my symptoms. A lot of them suggested that I wasn't adjusting to the food and air quality of Mexico. They told her, 'Take him home.'

"So she brought us both back to L.A. and, apparently, the second I was off the plane, I was looking healthy again.

"I like to joke around with her by telling her I was only experiencing a severe form of homesickness. I was born in Los Angeles. It's my home. I don't want to be away from it for very long."

-- George Castillo (as told to Jeremy Rosenberg)

**Jeremy Rosenberg has written for the Studio

Photo courtesy George Castillo

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