Saturday, November 14, 2009
(thanks to Hey Joe, who keeps harassing, oops, I mean encouraging me to write a new post)
This is a follow up to this post I wrote 3 years ago. In order to make sense of what I'm about to say, you should probably read it first.
Sometimes, when you least expect it...a wish comes true.
It has taken me over two months to sit down and write this. And, this is the first thing I have even been inspired to write about since my last post in March.
This past August, my brother and sister-in-law came for a visit from the east coast. My brother, who of course grew up here in L.A. with me, was on a mission to revisit every section of the city that had meaning to him. And since they were only going to be here for 3 days, we were racing against the clock.
I love L.A. (yes, me and Randy Newman) because there is no other city quite like it. There are so many diverse sections within this one city. Some beautiful and filled with opulence, while some are worn down by time and lack of care.
The first day, my mother and I met them at the airport and we were off and running. First stop, Culver City, where my dad owned a children's day camp up until he died. It was quickly replaced with an American Legion Hall back in 1967, and has stayed just that way ever since.
We continued on that first day, through Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and various parts of the "city". And at days end, my brother requested that the next day's journey be to our home in the valley. The home where my father died when I was 10. The home where absolutely everything about life would change for me.
Now, if you read my original post, you know that I have wanted to step back into that home since 1993. So when my brother announced that we'd be driving by there, I quickly gathered photos that would show us in front of the house...proof for the people living there now, that we had actually resided there.
Sunday came, and after fortifying with a nice big breakfast at Jerry's deli, off we went. We drove up to the house, parked and sat. Two cars were home in the driveway, which probably meant the people living there were as well.
We waited. What were the chances that someone would come out? And if so, what were the chances they'd welcome us in to their home?
Well, minutes went by and my sis-in-law says, "let's go knock on the door". I about fainted. How could we possibly knock on a strangers door and say "Hi, we used to live here, we are the original owners, can we come in?".
My sis-in-law was not going to give up. She suggested we go to the door, tell them who we are, and that we were going to be taking some pictures outside, and didn't want them to wonder what we were doing, should they look out the window.
And, we did just that...while my mother and brother waited in the car.
As we knocked on the door, I could feel my heart pounding and my brain flooding with memories. Thoughts swirled though my head...how would we convince these people that they should make a wish come true and let us walk through the house?
The door opened. There stood an older gentleman. We proceeded with our plan, telling who we were and how we would be taking pictures.
I came armed with my photo album and began showing him the proof.
He responded with this: "We are the 3rd owners of this home. I had heard that the first owners moved because the husband had died". My knees became weak, and in the voice of a 10 year old I blurted out: "That was my dad!!"
I quickly took a deep breath, and with all the courage I could muster, I asked if we could come in to see the house. The tears began to uncontrollably stream down my face, as I could feel the urgency to go in.
He. said. yes. of course.
This man seemed to understand the needs of the 10 year old little girl inside me...waiting to retouch what had long ago been lost.
We called to my mom and brother who were still waiting in the car, and in we went.
The same black slate entry floor. The same built in cabinet in the dining room.
The same wallpaper in the bathroom where my dad and I would look into the mirror to make funny faces together.
We made our way through the first floor.
But I knew I had one more stop to make on this journey through time...the upstairs, to my bedroom. My lavender room, where I knew everything was once whole and safe.
We climbed the stairs slowly, my heart once again beating quickly. And there it was, no longer lavender, but familiar and welcoming.
As the tears continued to pour down my face, the older gentleman went on to explain that they had been there since 1969. They raised a family of five in this house. They now had grandchildren.
We came back downstairs, where we would then meet his wife, who went on to tell us stories of neighbors who had moved away.
You could tell they were touched by our story and they knew they were participating in something important and healing.
As we thanked them and said our goodbyes, I felt complete somehow.
It was a day I won't soon forget.
It was the day my wish came true.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 14, 2009
For those of you who have followed this blog, you know that Mr. Cruisin's attempts at fixing this house have been great fodder for my writings. And so, once again I present another one of Mr. Cruisin's escapades, only this time it comes to you in his own words. Please give a big hand for my guest blogger...my old man...
Grab a beer or cup of coffee and sit back while once again, I make a complete ass of myself so that my friends can laugh at what a moron I am.
So when they did our landscaping years ago, they put a drain system in which for the life of me I don't understand why as we here in California are always in a perpetual drought.
Anyways, the back lawn has 9 drain spots where runoff water is collected and then gravity fed to the street. About once a year, I have to go around and trim the grass around them so they don't get covered up. I found 8 but the last one of course is MIA.
The typical protocol is for me to walk around with a shovel ( which my mother always told me "if you don't go to school, you better learn how to use a shovel".....so much for higher education...when you get your advanced degree, you will still be pushing a shovel...sorry to burst your bubble).
When you feel your foot fall into a small depression in the area where you think the drain was, you are probably right. For some reason, geologic forces beyond my comprehension have been in force and the area is aircraft carrier flat.
Of course, the walk area is a little compromised as my wife has switched dog foods which seems to be helping the velocity of my dog's digestive tract....enough said, you get the picture.
OK, time for plan B. Since the area is completely flat with no indication of where the drain was, we start punching holes in the area where I seem to recall the drain was.(like anyone even makes such a mental note of those things).
After about 45 minutes, the lawn looks like the last scene in Caddyshack after Bill Murray has blown up the fairways in pursuit of the gopher. Still no drains. No doubt someone has scaled my fence and stolen drain #9. I am telling you, this economic crash is having ripple effects no one even imagined.
OK, so now I am one hour into this idiotic quest. I could say screw it and quit and live with 8 drains, but a quitter I am not. It is the principle after all. Imagine where we would be as a nation if we were quittters......probably on the porch with a beer, but I digress.
OK, plan C. I saw this one in a Sylvester Stallone movie. You take a piece of fabric, wrap it around your forehead which makes you look dangerous, then you take a bayonet (or a big kitchen knife which you have to hide in your pants as if your wife sees you and asks you what in the world you are doing, you dutifully tell her, then she reminds you the dog craps out there and we carve roasts with that knife. You mumble something and run out. You also learn why it is not in your best interest to run with a knife in your pants.
So you get down and gently probe the ground with aforementioned knife at a 45 degree angle like you have seen in numerous war movies when they are looking for landmines. Of course, I have found landmines in my backyard courtesy of the dog but I hate to repeat myself.
Another 45 minutes prove fruitless. Now I am beginning to think one of my idiot friends came in and moved the drain so I could never find it. But they forget who they are dealing with. No doubt, they are perched somewhere with binoculars just laughing their collective asses off. I keep listening for the thump when they fall out of the tree they are hiding in from laughing so darn hard.
Where are we, plan D? Anyways, I grab an electrical fish tape, a small B/W camera which is 2x2" from Alllelectronics and the attendant data/power cable. I attach an led light array to the camera, tape the whole thing to the fish tape and down the drain it goes.
Of course, I have taken the small 12" tv out to the backyard with what can only be described as enough electrical extension wire to secure an aircraft carrier to a dock. Amazingly, I can see the inside of the pipe as I advance the camera. I think I could do colonoscopies!!! And with a 2" camera, some of my friend's are such big a##holes, well, let's save that for later.
12 feet later, I see the coupling which contains the missing drain. I mark the cable, pull it out, extend it on top of the grass, adjust for windage and plant my shovel. Eureka, there she is. The damn gophers must have dug a hole and covered it with dirt and the grass grew in. This is what happens when you leave the newspaper on the driveway, the gophers get it and read it thereby increasing their IQ's. But I fooled them, I canceled the paper.
So I spend the next 45 minutes replacing all the grass plugs I have dug looking for the stupid drain. I estimated my total time spent at close to 3 hours, but that's not the point, I did find the drain. Today I will measure and plot the location of my lawn drains on a plot plan of the house using GPS and a sextant.
Never give up, never quit (I think that would be more impressive in Latin)
Friday, February 06, 2009
Wanna freak your kids out? Get yourself a facebook account.
One of my friends told me I MUST get on facebook. Who am I to not follow the directions of a good friend?
So, I did.
What started as a place for college students to connect, has blown up into a monster of "cool connections" for every age. Even old fogies like myself.
But here's what I've noticed about Facebook.
People write little comments constantly updating you on their every move and thought.
Susie is: about to take a dump, feeling constipated.
Debbie is: in the mood for a massage...anyone willing?
Sandy is: going to watch American Idol (okay, so that one I can understand)
and on and on...
People seem to be even more addicted to this phenomenon than blogging.
It's crazy. This whole six degrees of separation is quite extraordinary. It's amazing to see how many people you can find if you just keep going through people's friends.
And yet, it's all just a little scary. The amount of detail you learn about people on Facebook sometimes falls into the category of TMI (too much information).
So, what is this phenomenon all about? Are we all so desperate to find people from our past?
Is this the only way we can connect with people?
Maybe it's comforting to know we can connect in a moment's notice in this great big world.
If you have any thoughts about this...I'd love to know.
Cruisin-mom: is off to the bathroom.......