Last week I had occasion to visit the neighborhood where I grew up in Santa Venetia, also derogatorily known as Scabo. I’m not sure what that stands for but since it’s an ugly word, I’m guessing it wasn’t known as the most desirable place to live. But I beg to differ.
Kids don’t know they don’t live in a mansion. I certainly didn’t. We had 4 bedrooms that weren’t much bigger than some large walk-in closets and closets not much wider than a refrigerator. Now don’t get me wrong; I didn’t care one bit. I had what I needed and that was enough.
Our little house
To me, our Doughboy Pool was the bomb (better known as groovy back then). Other neighborhood dads helped my dad install it. That’s how it was; neighbors helping neighbors. On summer afternoons, being in that pool or playing ping pong on the patio were my favorite places to be.
You know, time clicks by at a pace way too fast for those of us with skin more closely resembling a Shar-Pei rather than the supple, collagen-filled flesh of our youth. As we of this age know, when we’re young, time seems to move slower than molasses in January.
Well, I’ve learned a few things about that subject, like how youth is totally wasted on the young. I think we should be born old and live our lives in reverse, age-wise, like Brad Pitt in the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Imagine being able to snowboard at age 90 without a single thought of potentially breaking every bone in our body. And wouldn’t it be nice to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny late in life instead of them only being a memory from the magical world in which we once lived?
And speaking of memory, it’s such a shame to lose it as we age because it’s an essential prerequisite to reminiscing. And what are we without our memories? When we can no longer take a 50 mile bike ride or go on a camping safari in Tanzania because we’re ancient, our memories are what we rely on to remind us we actually had a pretty great life.
Even if you don’t live here, you might know about the wildfires we’re experiencing in California this year. And last year. And the year before. Unfortunately, it’s our new normal. And that sucks. Some of my friends had to evacuate from their homes in hills where fire overtook hundreds of acres. Thankfully, nobody I know lost their home or their life.
Nature is unpredictable, especially these days. Not knowing when or if another fire will break out is stressful. Which direction will it travel? How many acres will it burn? How many homes will be destroyed? How many lives lost? Who knows. But one thing is certain: it will happen again.
I used to think people were crazy who feared living in California because of earthquakes. Seriously, how many earthquakes do we have (very few) compared to the devastation eastern and southern coastal states endure from yearly hurricanes and tornadoes? But with fires being an annual thing now, there may be reason to fear living here, especially near hills and mountains.
In honor of my godson’s birthday, here’s a post from May, 2015
I almost died the day my godson Martin was born. But more about that later…
Now don’t get me wrong; I may not be a church-going Catholic but I’m on good terms with the Big Guy. He knows, although I’m not a weekly parishioner, most days I attempt to be a decent human being. For instance, I’m pretty sure I’ve only violated three of the Ten Commandments. I can’t be certain though since I only remember four.
Actually, I’m lucky to be alive to break any of the Commandments.
That brings us to when I almost died the day Martin was born. It was November 4, 1992. His parents, Sharon and Jim, invited me to videotape Martin’s big entrance. But when Jim called saying it was almost time, I’d just finished a graveyard shift so was half asleep.
Still, I did my best Danica Patrick impersonation to reach the hospital 45 minutes away.
Speeding at 80 mph, I nodded off, almost hitting the center divider. I was heading toward the white light, if you know what I mean. Suddenly, it was as if my guardian angel gave me a whiff of smelling salts and snapped me awake. If my life flashed before my eyes, I was simply too tired to notice. Anyway, turns out I needn’t have hurried; Martin took his sweet time getting here.
Coulda been worse I guess. She wasn’t an awful hummer. And at least I wasn’t next to the guy 5 rows up who forgot his headphones though still enjoyed a comedy on his laptop. It was a Seinfeld episode – the one where Jerry can’t remember the name of his date but knows it rhymes with a woman’s body part. I know this because I, and everyone within 5 rows of him, heard every word. (If you’re wondering, her name was Delores.)
Over in Dallas, during a night of flash flooding and thunderstorms that shook our hotel and triggered our cell phone alarms at 3:00 a.m., we waited for a tornado to hit. Why do folks fear measly earthquakes? Texas can keep their tornadoes. Give me a ground shaker any day of the week.
Anyway, my godson, sporting a little ponytail, a goatee and a broad smile, proudly accepted his BA in Business. What a journey it’s been.
He’s the handsome one in the middle
I admit I had my doubts about that kid as a tyke, when he’d pull out tufts of his sister Caitlin’s hair or, from his car seat, bit off chunks of padding from the car door upholstery. Let’s just say he was quite a handful.