Jim in Long Beach, where his family
rented one side of this tiny duplex
for a few years before moving to Garden Grove.
He poses with the current occupants.
Three of us traveled 3,000-plus miles to go home to California. There we were, all together in the car, saying things like:
“Look! I rode my bike down this hill every day after school. In those days, everybody rode bikes everywhere. Nobody does that now.”
“Look! Sepulveda Boulevard. I remember that. Wow. Cool. Sepulveda [pronounced say-pull-vay-dah though Ms. Garmin says sip-ul-vee-da].”
“Look! That’s my old house. See that window there on the left? That was my room.”
“Look! There’s my high school. Go Argonauts!”
“Look! This is all new.”
Some of our houses are gone, replaced by others that are now gone as well. It’s an enterprising region, we see, with little respect for the aesthetics of our landscape. Oil derricks pump away between trees and in the middle of shopping malls. Anyone spending two days in LA will get this immediately. Beauty is the lost art. Thus Hollywood and Fantasyland, as if to compensate or perhaps to provide alternatives.
“What a blight, a sprawl, so deadly to the spirit.”
OK. So we’re not poets.
It takes time for this sensory overload to settle down. You see and do a lot in a day. We don’t so much sleep as pass out. Then, due to the three-hour time difference and solidified circadian rhythms, eyelids fly open at 2 am. What the …?
So much to weigh. This is where I came from. This is how far I’ve traveled. This is what I got done. This is what I didn’t do. And. This is what’s left.
I’m home now. Santa Barbara. This oak. This eucalyptus. This salt air. This chaparral. They may have taken away the Copper Kettle and I can’t find See’s Candy but I recognize that light shining on that stretch of ocean. I know how eucalyptus smells. And I know just how it feels to run in the sand.
That, I do again. It feels better than ever.