April 28, 2015

quadrophenia, magnolias, and the puzzle box

I flew out to Orange County, CA to stay with my dad for three days while my stepmom has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks. I wanted a chance to keep him company and make sure he's okay. Mission accomplished. I fly home tomorrow.

This is the first time I've been away from my husband and son overnight. I thought it would feel like a vacation, but instead it's been a quiet journey, inside and out.

My flight got in Sunday morning, and we spent that day doing nothing but talking and hanging out together. I went to the grocery store. I cooked dinner. We enjoyed the first one-on-one company we've kept in about 15 years. We went to visit my stepmom today and hung out with her for a couple hours before the impending doom of traffic sent us back to home base.

Early this morning, I went for a walk before my dad got up. Not knowing the area, I just headed north (uphill) and kept going until the street ended. I found The Who's Quadrophenia on my phone and decided it was the perfect soundtrack for my journey through the wilderness of my youth. You see, I grew up around here and moved when I was 18. From the magic of childhood through the torrents of the teen years, I lived for Disneyland and the beach and parties. But I was ready when I decided to migrate to Colorado with my mom - away from the crowds, the peer pressure, and the culture of pleasure and plastic. I've never looked back.

On my walk, I swooned at the constant wafting scent of magnolias and jasmine. I stared at the succulent trees and bushes (!) of poinsettia. It was like walking on a different planet.

Meanwhile, the lyrics from the album sank into my head: "The heat is rising... the past is calling. Is it me, or a moment?" Memories of the things I enjoyed most about this place came back and filled the corners of my psyche.

Nothing like the grounding of your past to lend perspective to who you are.

My stepmom told me about a box she'd packed for me of some of my deceased grandmother's collector plates. I found the box and, in addition to the plates, found the most interesting assortment of things. Pictures of me. My dad's birth card with date and time hand written, plus his resume from about 1964 (a different time in the Los Angeles area, that's for sure). A plastic hinged box with one gold ring -- presumably my (divorced) grandmother's wedding ring. Together, they are pieces to a puzzle I know little about.

Tomorrow I'll fly home to kith and kin, working and family, punch and grind. But I have decided that I do not want to stay away for years at a time anymore. Not when my dad's body is 20 years older than it should be, and not while I can give my son a chance to know him as well as where my side of the family comes from.