A hilltop apple orchard in Watsonville, CA. Those hills in the distance? That's where the San Andreas Fault runs.
As I am sure I mentioned before, when Rick died I figured I would be out of my mind for at least two years. Having that idea intellectually is quite different from the actual experience. I didn’t know that my interior life would be burned to the ground when he died, or how long it would take to recover from the stunning reality of his passing. Finally it seems like even though I still feel like a mess inside, I’m at some kind of baseline where I can start building my new normal life.
So I’m going to California.
The object of this trip is to attend the 50-year reunion of my high school class.
Why go to a 50-year reunion? It isn’t as if high school was a great experience for me. I hated pretty much every minute, except when I was singing in choir, but I figure it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Maybe I’ll be able to tell you why I went afterward, when I’ve had the experience and had time to think about it. For now it’s a trip I’ve been planning for over a year, and which I’ve almost backed out of several times.
Ever since I can remember I’ve had this severe anxiety before trips. Only people who have these feelings can understand, I imagine. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Rick always said, “Once you’re on the road, you’ll be fine.” Rick was right about that. I was always in road trip mode by the time I got off the ferry at Pt. Defiance.
I hope it works that way this time.
So, a 50-year reunion. Wonder how many people I’ll recognize, or will recognize me.
While I’m in town, I’ll visit the ranch where I grew up. I’ll visit my parents’ graves and leave flowers. I hope to go to the Santa Cruz County Fair, and look at the apple exhibits. My parents used to enter their largest apples in my name and let me keep the ribbons.
I’ll go commune with the cows and the goats and the horses and look at the lucky 4-H kids who are spending a few days sleeping in the barns at the fair. Man, I wanted to do that, but my father wouldn’t let me raise a calf. He said my mother and I would get attached and name the damn thing and then when it was time to sell it to be butchered there would be hell to pay. He was probably correct.
When the weekend is over I might drive south to San Luis Obispo so I can turn and go up through Big Sur. We’ll see.
However far south I drive, when I turn north I’ll head up the coast, through the redwoods. Something about Highway 101 from Healdsburg north resonates within me, perhaps because occasionally I catch a glimpse of the California I traveled with my parents when I was a child. May have to stop and hug a gigantic tree or two.
I’ll definitely visit the Ship Ashore trailer park, motel, and restaurant at the mouth of Smith River. That’s the property my grandparents owned during the 1930s. It impressed me as a fairly desolate environment. I don’t know what my grandparents saw in the place, but apparently my grandmother Lyllian loved it deeply there. Grandpa sold the place after she died of Pick’s disease in 1938. Still, I stop and drive in and look down at the river every time I drive by.
Then I’ll head for home as fast as I can go, ready to be home and feel safe again. That’s my next couple of weeks. I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.
Unless of course I decide to head to Los Angeles and take another crack at that songwriter career. But most likely that coming home thing.