What I'm Wearing: Jacket,Sweater & Chinos: Good Fellow, Shoes: GUESS, Armada Duffle: Mahi Leather
“The Other Side Of Town” (feat. Mahi Leather)
5 years ago on October 16, 2012, I moved to LA. A few weeks ago I was approached by Mahi Leather to collaborate and make one of their classic bags apart of my story. As soon as I saw the Armada Duffle, which is spacious and top quality, I knew what story I wanted to tell. 5 years ago I packed up my bags from a Northern California town called Fairfield, to move to a city where I felt more loved and respected than I had felt in the last few years being in Fairfield. I made this vow to myself to never really bring up the town I grew up in. I don’t like to talk about. When Mahi asked what the engraving I wanted on my bag to be, I said DB for Dom Baza. That name means a lot to me, and having the engraving say DB, makes this bag more special to me. I left Fairfield in 2012 to become the Dom Baza that I know now. I created this version of myself that I wanted to be in Fairfield, but no one ever really appreciated that. Here I am 5 years later back in the town I grew up in, the town that broke my former self to pieces. I left 5 years ago with bags in my hand, ready to start a new journey, and now i’m back 5 years later to unpack my unspoken story about my life on the other side of town.
Fairfield & Suisun, California - They are basically the same town. They are right next to each other and share the same city laws, etc. My family moved here in 1997. I grew up loving the town I lived in. When I was kid I saw it as a safe haven. I loved the local library, movie theater, mall, local people. Then as I got older my mind started shifting more towards my career. I knew since I was a kid, music, music was what I wanted to do when I got older. When I turned 12 I started taking larger strides towards my dreams. The people in town did not agree with what I wanted to do. In school I had supporters, but a lot people put me down. When I got to high school it became all too much for me. I was focusing hard on music and school, I could not juggle the 2. I’d go home after school and music would be there for me. I’d go to school and i’d be constantly bombarded by my fellow classmates and teachers telling me to do something better with my life. One of my teachers suggested I should get more involved with school activities, rather than focusing on a hobby that will never get me anywhere. As every thing started to reach it’s boiling point, I left 6 months into the school year. I became home schooled and surpassed my personal goals and graduated early at 17 years old.
Once I graduated I was ready to leave this place behind. I had a leather bag similar to the one Mahi gave me. It wasn’t engraved, but it was old school from the 90’s. It fit a lot of my stuff and I used the bag growing up as a kid to travel back and forth from SoCal to NorCal. We lived in Fairfield, but my parents would take us to LA, San Diego, San Fran, and then all the way back to Fairfield all the time. I was a lucky kid to have parents who knew the state so well. Fairfield is 40 mins away from the city (SF), and people consider it an outskirt town. I… consider it the other side of town. I never speak of this town that I once loved and how I experienced a different kind of broken heart. I was mocked, I was dragged, people were out to get me. I remember receiving death threats at 14 years old from students at my old high school. They would throw stuff at me, spit on me, harass me. I was so broken. I’ve been so broken so many times in my life and i’m only 22. I used to feel so safe in this town, and even now as an adult years later, I still look around to make sure i’m not the target I once was. Receiving this bag from Mahi made me want to go back to Fairfield and open up about a young Dom Baza’s journey.
I packed so much of those emotions and memories away and to come back here floods my soul with the bittersweet moments. As I walked around town waiting for my train back into San Fran, I thought about my childhood in a town that I really once cared for. I used to have so many friends as a kid. Over the summer I gave a glimpse into middle school Dom Baza’s life. I thought all the people in my life then would still be here, now. Once I became the Dom Baza I am today, no one wanted apart of this journey that i’m on. I used to come to the waterfront that you see in these pictures and have fun times with my former friends. Talking about the days when we would be older, attending each others weddings and being the god parents to each others kids… now if I were to hear about them, I honestly can say, I don’t know them anymore. Although none of these people are in my life anymore, Fairfield still has to hold an important place in my heart. No matter how much I try to run from my past, it’s still apart of me, and always will be.
The engraving of DB on the Mahi Armada Duffle means a lot to me. I created who I am in Fairfield. They didn’t appreciate or understand that, they didn’t want Dom Baza. To have DB engraved on something forever is like getting a tattoo. The name Dom Baza is more than just a name for me. It’s my story and it’s ever evolving and changing with each page I write. Holding this bag engraved with my initials, with my new and improved self in Fairfield, makes me proud of this very difficult journey that started on the other side of town. "I was young when I left home", but i’m happy I could come back for a moment and unpack some of the former memories that haunt me. One day I hope to have the same feelings I did as a kid, about the town I grew up in. I’ll always cherish all the great days I had when I was young, but for now I gotta keep moving forward from the other side of town.
Photographer: Joanna Wheeler
Every post I will include the song that inspired me to build a post around it's title
Book 2: Chapter 3